You are here:  Home » Learn & Take Action » Women's Guide to Telogen Effluvium

Women's Guide to Telogen Effluvium

Learn about the causes, diagnosis, and treatments for Telogen Effluvium in Females.

Telogen effluvium (diffuse hair shedding) is the second most common form of hair loss. Both androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium account for about 95% of all hair-loss cases. Telogen effluvium is divided into three different types: sudden, delayed and chronic.

Types of Telogen Effluvium

Sudden telogen effluvium is when hair loss is rapid and occurs abruptly. This is usually caused by bodily stress or high fever. Delayed telogen effluvium affects the person after several months of undergoing severe physical or emotional stress. The death of someone close, extreme psychological or physical stress, major illness or the postpartum period are all examples of things that could have triggered a large shedding of hair. The last type of telogen effluvium is chronic telogen effluvium, where the shed persists over months or years. Telogen effluvium can unfortunately also unmask, induce or trigger androgenetic alopecia if you have the genetic predisposition for it. This can be the case even if the androgenetic alopecia was previously unrecognized.

Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium in Women

The symptoms of telogen effluvium include shedding of hair, diffuse hair loss all over the scalp and an increased number of loose hairs (on the floor, pillow, shower, etc). Although the normal amount of hair loss per day is usually around 100, people who are experiencing telogen effluvium can lose between 100 to 400 hairs a day. Sometimes hair loss can be in the lesser end of the range, and the telogen effluvium could go unrecognized. Another symptom of telogen effluvium or chronic telogen effluvium is the feeling of painful hair, where the hair feels like it is being pricked by needles or pulled. This is called trichodynia; about one third of those with telogen effluvium experience this.

Causes of Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium can be caused by many things. There are three categories of causes: physiologic, injury or stress/illness related and drugs or other substances. A physiologic cause can be early stages of androgenetic alopecia (genetic pattern baldness), a physiologic effluvium of a newborn, and the postpartum period after a woman gives birth. Injury and stress or illness can cause hair shedding, this includes:

  • Crash/liquid protein diets
  • High fever
  • Anorexia, eating disorders
  • Iron deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • PCOS or other endocrinopathies
  • Surgery
  • Severe chronic illness
  • Severe infection
  • Severe psychological stress (life threatening situations)

Some drugs and other substances are known to have hair loss side effects such as:

  • Anticoagulants (especially heparin)
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Antikeratinazing agents (such as etretinate, tegison)
  • Antithyroid medications
  • Heavy metals
  • Hormones (such as birth control)


Step 2: Understanding Female Androgenetic Alopecia

If you are experiencing patchy hair loss, or sudden drastic head or body hair loss, we will be publishing guides for you in the coming months as well.

We encourage you to join our Discussion Forums where we have social networking forums just for those of you with conditions like these: Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis, and Alopecia Univesalis.