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Is Your Hair Taking a Break?
Date:7/29/2009

Telogen Effluvium

Another common form of hair loss in both men and women, telogen effluvium, refers to an increase in the number of hairs in the telogen, or rest, phase of the hair cycle, which typically lasts three months in the normal growth cycle. However, telogen effluvium occurs as a result of the body's natural physiologic response to some form of stress, causing more hair to enter the rest phase than the normal 10 percent. For example, surgery, childbirth, dramatic weight loss (including gastric bypass surgery), the death of a loved one, starting or stopping oral contraceptives, iron deficiency, and chronic thyroid diseases can trigger this type of hair loss.

"When I evaluate patients' hair and their recent medical history, I am able to determine if their hair loss is a result of telogen effluvium. I always tell women to be patient and that their hair needs to grow back on its own," said Dr. McMichael. "In these cases, I would only recommend minoxidil to less than 50 percent of women and oral medications would not be effective. Once the trigger is removed, the hair simply needs to return to normal -- which could take anywhere from three to nine months. The key is determining the trigger and when it occurred in relation to the hair loss."

Alopecia Areata

An autoimmune form of hair loss that can affect men and women, alopecia areata, occurs when the body's white blood cells attack the hair follicles and put them to sleep. This results in either a small patch of complete hair loss on the scalp that may be easy to cover or complete hair loss on the scalp (similar to the effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients) and/or other areas of the body.

While not as common as other forms of hair loss, this condition can be very psychologically upsetting for women and its manifestations are unpredictable from person to person. For example, alopecia areata can happen overnight or occur g
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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