Sometimes when I brush my hair I think of this character from Roger Hangreaves book. And in the last week, I’ve been thinking of Mr. Messy A LOT!
Why you ask? Well, thanks to Covid -19, my hair is falling out.
Yes Folks, March 14th brought us Covid-19, May 14th to July 14th brings us Telogen Effluvium.
Say it out loud.
Kind of sounds like a sneeze doesn’t it?
In the dermatology world, we warmly refer to this temporary hair loss phenomenon as “TE” to prevent the constant need for onlookers to say, “Excuse you,” every time it is said. Telogen refers to the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. At any given point in time, 15% of your scalp hair is in the resting phase. 85% of your hair is in the active growing phase, referred to as Anagen. A hair follicle normally grows in Anagen for about 4 years, then rests for around 4 months, until a new Anagen hair begins to grow under the telogen hair and pushes it out of the house.
Kind of sounds like those 4 years you spent in University and then moved back in with your parents and watched Friends Re-Runs unemployed until they pushed you out the door, doesn’t it?
With the normal growth phases of the hair, it is considered normal to lose approx. 100 hairs per day. With a sudden upset that throws your world for a loop, let’s say, losing your job, having your business close, laying off your employees, having your children’s futures questioned, worrying about your loved ones, fearing for your life…. Yeah all that garbage we have been dealing with over the last few months, well, this can throw the growth cycle of your hair into absolute chaos.
When this happens, 70% of those 85% Anagen growing hairs, give up and exit the building, turning into Telogen hairs that fall out. Suddenly the amount of daily hair shedding increases dramatically. (Bonus prize for anyone who guesses the correct number of hairs that I lost this morning and used to make my Mr. Messy).
It usually takes 2-4 months after the triggering event for the shedding to occur.
Interestingly, the hair is shedding because the new growing Anagen hairs are pushing the old telogen ones out. So the actual observation of shedding is a paradox because it actually signifies new hair growth.
These new growth hairs can be seen as fine wispy baby hairs blowing in the breeze around the sides of your face and forehead.
Common reasons for TE to occur include child birth, acute or chronic illness, an operation, certain medications, nutritional deficiencies or dieting, some skin conditions, and most recently total world domination of a pangolin bat life sucking job losing little sneezing thing that wears a crown.
So what to do about.
Don’t collect it in baggies to bring to your dermatologist :0) (Thank you)
Be reassured that this can be freaky and exponentially grow your collection of hats, but it tends to taper off over 6-9 months. In some situations the new density of the scalp hairs is thinner than it used to be. You might have to change from a scrunchie to a small elastic. But be assured that this is a limited, non-scarring form of hair loss that leads to a few things:
- The learned skill of unclogging your shower drain
- The contemplation of how you will look sporting a Sinead O’Conner.
- And that maybe, just maybe, you might stop teasing your step dad for having more hair on his back than he does on his scalp.
If your hair loss is stressing you out. Know that you are not alone.
Dr. B. :0)