About six weeks to three months after the stressful event, the shedding phenomenon called telogen effluvium may begin. It is possible to lose handfuls of hair at a time when in full-blown telogen effluvium.
For most who suffer with this, complete remission is probable as long as severely stressful events can be avoided. For some women, however, telogen effluvium is a mysterious chronic disorder and can persist for months or even years without any true understanding of the triggering factors or stressors.
Anagen effluvium occurs after any insult to the hair follicle that impairs its cellular-level mitotic or metabolic activity. This hair loss is commonly associated with chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cancer cells, your body's other rapidly dividing cells -- such as hair follicles in the growing (anagen) phase -- are also greatly affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins, approximately 90% or more of hairs in the anagen phase can fall out.
The characteristic finding in anagen effluvium is the tapered fracture of the hair shafts. The hair shaft narrows as a result of damage to the matrix. Eventually, the shaft fractures at the site of narrowing and causes the loss of hair.
An inappropriate inflammatory reaction is behind alopecia areata. A person's own immune system attacks the roots of hair follicles. Symptoms include patchy shedding of hair, which sometimes develops quite suddenly. About 70% of patients recover their hair within two years, whether or not they receive treatment.
This condition is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles that pull at the hair over time. If the condition is detected early enough, the hair will regrow. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails, and extensions are the most common styling causes of traction alopecia.
Published on March 1, 2010