It is common for us to experience hair loss following traumatic periods of our lives. While it is normal and healthy for hair to fall out in its natural life cycle, periods of continuous, high stress can lead to a rapid increase in hair loss.
COVID-19 has provided an example for this, as several patients have reported major hair loss after recovering. While COVID does not directly cause hair loss for men and women, many of the “long-haulers” who have experienced symptoms for several weeks and months, have found that this high stress time has increased their rate of hair loss well past normal levels.
Increased hair loss due to stress, shock, or body change is known as “Telogen Effluvium”.
Normally, about 90% of our hair is in the process of growing- the “anagen phase”- and the remaining 10% is in the “telogen phase”- it is resting before falling out and being replaced by new growing hair. Hair is typically growing in the anagen phase for 2 - 4 years and resting in the telogen phase for 2 - 4 months before falling out and being replaced.
In the case of Telogen Effluvium, a period of stress or shock causes an above average amount of hair to stop growing and shift into the telogen phase, typically up to 30% of their hair opposed to the usual 10%.
With a healthy 10% of hair in the telogen phase, a person loses up to 100 hairs a day. However, in the case of Telogen Effluvium, with hairs in the telogen phase increased to 30%, a person can lose up to 300 hairs a day- a drastic difference of three times the amount of hair being shed.
While losing our hair can be a very traumatic experience as it is such an ingrained part of identity in our culture, the good news is that Telogen Effluvium is only temporary! Hair will typically return to its previous thickness after 6 months. The best way you can hasten this process is to explore ways to keep your stress levels low and increase calmness, to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and to adopt the proper hair care regimen which you may find outlined in our previous blogs.
Whether you have telogen effluvium, another condition, or simply genes that predispose you to hair loss, there are so many healthy treatments available, and you do not have to go through it alone.