Telogen Effluvium: Diffuse Hair Loss

This page fully explains telogen effluvium - what causes it, what the symptoms are, and who suffers from it.

It then suggests what you can do about it.


Obviously you first need to find out exactly which type of hair loss you have.

And your doctor should, of course, be able to help confirm this through blood tests, an examination of your scalp, and a consultation about your health in general.

But, you can also get a pretty good idea of telogen effluvium symptoms from the pictures below.

First, notice how the hair has thinned out substantially, causing the scalp to show through. However, you can see that there are no areas of complete baldness as is the case with some other types of hair loss.

Also notice how the hair loss is spread out quite evenly across the whole scalp. That’s a typical telogen effluvium symptom. In fact, that's why this type of hair loss is also known as "diffuse thinning" or "diffuse hair loss".

Telogen effluvium (diffuse thinning).


This form of hair loss involves a disruption in the normal growth cycle of scalp hair. This repeating cycle includes anagen (the growing phase) and telogen (the resting phase).

If you're in good health, up to 90% of your scalp hair will be in anagen at any one time. The other 10% is mostly in telogen. This hair then falls out within a few months and the whole natural cycle starts again.

So, for anyone who has a full head of hair and no hair disorder, what all this basically means is that they’ll lose about 100 hairs per day as part of the normal hair growth cycle.

But, if you’ve got telogen effluvium, you could lose a lot more than 100 hairs per day!

That’s because, far more than the usual 10% of your hair is being forced into telogen.

So, the big question is…

What forces hair out of anagen and into telogen?

Many things can do this, including the following six:

1. Nutrition – Some nutrients are essential if your hair growth cycle is to continue as normal. Only very small amounts might be needed, but if your body doesn’t receive a regular supply, the health of your hair can start to suffer. So, if your nutrient supply is inadequate through poor eating, then you could be asking for trouble!

Also, drastic dieting can similarly cause problems. In other words, go on a crash diet and you could find yourself not just losing weight, you might start losing hair too!

A stcky bun will definitely lack the nutrients your hair needs!

2. Hormones
- Sudden hormone disruption can cause several types of hair loss. So, clearly it’s very important to try and maintain balance in your hormone levels. But, easier said than done. How do know when you’ve got a hormone imbalance? (Some potential causes are quite obvious, e.g., pregnancy and the menopause).

3. Illness – Clearly there’s never a good time to suffer hair loss! But, being ill can often take its toll on your hair as well as your body. And whilst the health of your body is obviously your main concern, the health of your hair can often have a huge psychological impact - and, if you’re seriously ill, it’s very important to have a positive mindset, not a negative one.

4. Medication - If you’re taking powerful drugs to combat a serious illness, you might find yourself suffering serious side effects too. Many conventional medicines work on a "magic bullet" basis – targeting a specific disease to produce an immediate effect. But, there can be consequences, and your hair growth cycle can get thrown out of whack.

5. Injury – an injury can cause shock and stress. And when your body is stressed, your hair can be the first to show it.

6. Stress – There are many types of stress (physical, chemical, emotional, etc). And any of these can adversely affect your hair growth. That’s because, during the stress response, your peripheral circulation (i.e., to your skin, hair follicles, etc.) can quickly get interrupted and blood flow diverted inside your body. So, if you suffer chronic stress, you could develop chronic hair loss too!

Learn more about hair loss and stress?  Read this page.

Looking through the list, it's easy to understand why women suffer this type of hair loss the most. But, since the growth cycle of hair is the same for everyone, men can be affected too.

From these various potential causes, different types of telogen effluvium can develop…


Chronic telogen effluvium (CTE)

CTE is very common in women. In fact, along with androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss), these two conditions account for almost all cases of female hair loss!

CTE is caused by an iron deficiency, and can often develop through poor nutrition, heavy bleeding during periods, or both.

Note: You can learn the best way to treat CTE on the next page.

CTE is caused by an iron deficiency - iron tablets can help.

Acute telogen effluvium

If a serious event in your life takes place, any severe shock it causes could lead to a sudden increase in hair loss.

However, it might be difficult to pinpoint the actual reason for the hair loss because, as already stated, there can be a few months delay before shedding starts after hair has been forced out of anagen and into telogen.

With this disorder, as much as 70% of the scalp hair can be forced into telogen and then start to fall. That’s a lot of hair!

Note: This condition can be confused with alopecia areata because both can cause rapid hair loss.

Acute telegen effluvium can cause sudden hair thnning. Alopecia areata can cause sudden bald patches.

Postpartum telogen effluvium

Hair loss after pregnancy can be caused by a number of things, including hormone imbalance, thyroid conditions and immune system disorders.

Three different types of postpartum hair loss, as well as what action you can take, are explained on this page.

After pregnancy, telogen effluvium may develop.


Once you’ve identified which type of telogen effluvium you have, you can then begin appropriate treatment. Follow the three-point plan below to deal with it the most effective way.

1. Deal with the underlying cause – whether it be stress, a nutritional deficiency, a recent pregnancy, etc., once you’ve identified the reason for your hair loss, try to take appropriate action against the underlying cause.

2. Give it time - it can take quite some time to correct. This might vary from six months (CTE) to 18 months (postpartum telogen effluvium).

3. Start using hair loss products? If, after giving your body sufficient time to correct the problem on its own, your hair is still not growing properly, start thinking about using hair loss products, and bear in mind the following…

And to make matters worse...

If you’re not seeing any real improvements by the time you should have, maybe you have some other type of hair loss too!

This is quite possible. In which case, it can be very tricky to diagnose – you would definitely want to see your doctor for tests.

However, whatever the reason why your hair growth has not recovered (or if you feel you want to do something immediately to help your hair growth anyway), start simple and affordable.

My own approach to hair loss has been well-received by both men and women, including those who had a different type of hair loss to my own (which was androgenetic alopecia).

For example, here's a testimonial from a lady who had telogen effluvium hair loss…

"Had a run in with telogen effluvium a few months back, it was fantastic... I really think you're on to something."

Yvonne Snell, USA

Read more customer testimonials?

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Read next page? Chronic Telogen Effluvium.

Leave Telogen Effluvium and return to Hair Loss Type Index.

Note: Always consult with a doctor to identify which type of hair loss you have and how best to treat it.

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