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Telogen Effluvium and Your Diet: Everything You Need To Know

By Jon McKenna
Telogen effluvium is temporary hair loss frequently caused by stresses on your body and mind. Adjustments to your diet and lifestyle can help.

You’re noticing an unusual number of hairs have fallen from your head to the pillow or shower floor. Perhaps you’re alarmed, but take heart: Your hair loss may be caused by a temporary condition called telogen effluvium. Adjustments to your diet and lifestyle can help prevent it from returning.

What Causes Telogen Effluvium?

With telogen effluvium, some body change or shock pushes more of your head hairs than normal into a resting phase, according to Harvard Medical School. In the ongoing cycle, the resting phase is followed by hairs falling out, then by regrowth. That hair loss may be very noticeable, even severe, with telogen effluvium

“Some people lose up to 40% of their hair during an episode,” Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a Beverly Hills, Calif., dermatologist, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Your hair loss typically starts within two to four months after the triggering event and lasts for another six months. While hairs start growing back immediately after they are shed, it may take several months to notice a difference.

Manhattan Beach, Calif., dermatologist Sanusi Umar, MD, tells Web MD Connect to Care that most telogen effluvium cases he sees are triggered by one of three situations:

  • Stress, either psychological or from extreme weight loss or diet changes
  • Serious illness with infection and fever
  • A reaction to certain medications

How Your Diet Can Help

A balanced diet will not speed up hair regrowth after a bout of telogen effluvium, Shainhouse says, but it can help prevent a repeat episode or reduce its impact.

Diets with significant deficiencies in vitamins C and D and iron increase your risk of telogen effluvium and make it harder for hair to grow back fully. You can help yourself, Umar says, by adding certain foods to your diet:

  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits
  • Vitamin D: Fortified soy and almond milk
  • Iron: Dark, green, leafy vegetables

If you still have difficulty achieving recommended daily allowances through your diet, you can consider supplements of vitamins C and D and iron. However, you should first consult your primary care physician or dermatologist in case dosages have side effects on your health, Umar says.

“Packaged supplements can help prevent the onset of telogen effluvium, but it’s easier than you think to attain healthy nutritional levels by consuming commonly available food sources,” Umar says.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Today.

The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.