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Anagen Effluvium: Causes, Duration, Avoidance, and Treatments

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Seeing large amounts of hair loss in a short period of time can be stressful and take a toll on your self-esteem or confidence levels. 

And, while it may not help with the hair loss at the moment to know exactly why you may be shedding large amounts of hair, figuring out the reasons behind the shedding and just how your specific hair loss is classified may help you identify treatment options and understand potential regrowth timelines.

Anagen Effluvium is one classification of significant hair loss that is normally related to certain medical treatments.

Below, we will cover some more details about anagen effluvium including what can cause it, how it differs from Telogen Effluvium shedding, how long it can last, ways to potentially reduce its extent, and the treatment options.

What is Anagen Effluvium?

Anagen Effluvium is a type of alopecia, or hair loss, where hair shedding is triggered. These shedding events occur on hairs in the growth (anagen) stages of hair growth and are commonly triggered by certain chemotherapeutic agents or an inflammatory insult, causing the hair shafts to fracture and shed.

This type of hair loss may be referred to as chemotherapy-induced alopecia since it is common to see in people undergoing chemotherapy.

While a significant amount of hair loss in a short period of time can be traumatic, it is common for hair to return to normal once the offending agent has been removed.

What can cause Anagen Effluvium?

Anagen Effluvium can occur due to a few different treatments, medications, or disease states, although it is most commonly seen secondary to treatment with chemotherapy. During chemotherapy, Anagen Effluvium may begin within 14 days of administering the medication. However, not every chemotherapy agent will cause Anagen Effluvium, it may not occur to the same extent in every person, and it may happen to every person undergoing chemotherapy. 

If you are going to undergo chemotherapy treatment, your doctor should be able to tell you if you should expect Anagen Effluvium with your specific treatment regimen.

Below, are the potential root causes of Anagen Effluvium:

  • Chemotherapy agents: Antimetabolites, mitotic inhibitors, alkylating agents, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and the nitrosoureas
  • Other medications (non-chemotherapy drugs): Levodopa, colchicine, isoniazid, cyclosporine
  • Toxic heavy metals: Bismuth, boron, cadmium, copper, thallium, mercury
  • Inflammatory disorders: Alopecia areata, syphilis 
  • Other conditions: Pemphigus Vulgaris, Kwashiorkor malnutrition
  • Other treatments: Radiation

How is Anagen Effluvium different from Telogen Effluvium?

Both Anagen Effluvium and Telogen Effluvium can lead to large amounts of hair shedding in a relatively short period of time. And, for both of these, the normal pattern of hair growth and thickness normally returns with time. However, they are different due to a few key points.

Potential causes: Anagen Effluvium can occur due to chemotherapy agents, certain medications, heavy metals, inflammatory disorders, or other conditions. Telogen Effluvium can commonly occur due to traumatic events or high-stress states like prolonged severe life stressors, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, surgery, poor diet, sudden weight loss, or certain drugs and health conditions.

The growth stage the hair is in during shedding: Anagen Effluvium hairs fall out or break off during the Anagen (growth phase) of the hair cycle. Telogen Effluvium hairs fall out during the Telogen (resting phase) of the hair cycle.

How the shed hairs look upon examination: In a close look at hairs shed during Anagen Effluvium, they may appear with a tapered fracture on the hair shaft, and be fully pigmented, and the roots are commonly covered with the inner and outer root sheaths. The hairs shed during Telogen Effluvium commonly have less pigment closer to the end which was anchored to the scalp, have a distinct club-shaped root, and have no inner or outer root sheaths.

If you are experiencing rapid hair shedding, but you are unsure what is happening, it is important to speak with your doctor to get a clear diagnosis.

How long does Anagen Effluvium last?

Anagen Effluvium may last as long as the offending agent is continued. But, regrowth may begin shortly after discontinuing the agent behind the Anagen Effluvium. In many instances, the hair loss due to Anagen Effluvium is reversible.

Are there ways to avoid Anagen Effluvium?

If you need to use a treatment that may lead to Anagen Effluvium, you may be able to try a few techniques to potentially help reduce the effects of chemotherapeutic medications on your hair. Scalp tourniquets or inducing scalp hypothermia may limit the drug delivery to these areas. Talk to your doctor to see if these are potential options for you that will not interfere with the therapeutic goals.

It is also wise to avoid additional stress on the hair while using medications that may cause Anagen Effluvium. Hair bleaching, coloring, or using hot styling tools can put additional stress on the hair.

How can Anagen Effluvium be treated?

There is not currently a treatment for Anagen Effluvium if you are experiencing it from a treatment or medication. However, it may give you comfort knowing that once the treatment causing the issue is completed, your hair will likely return to normal.

Some people may wish to use wigs, scarves, or other devices to help make the hair appear more full or cover the scalp during Anagen Effluvium. 

Some reports have suggested that topical Minoxidil may aid in faster hair regrowth if started after the offending agents have been stopped, and may lead to a reduction in the baldness period by 50 days.

Strut Health prescription hair loss medications online

Here at Strut, we mainly treat hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern hair loss). Although, we do offer Minoxidil formulations that can contain strengths higher than what can be found over the counter (up to 7.5%) for men and women. 

If you are interested in seeing if a prescription hair loss medication is a good option for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.

If you are a good candidate for a topical or oral hair loss treatment, your medication will be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. 

If you have any questions or need adjustments during your treatment, our team and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.

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