Anagen Effluvium: What You Should Know About
A large percentage of the skin keeps follicles that are engaged in the production of hair-shaft. Yet, there are certain locations in the body that are exempted of hair-shaft production such as in the eyelids, soles, lips, back part of distal phalanges, palms and some portions in the external genitalia. Along with a healthy living, productive and active hair follicles can successfully develop hair-shafts.
Our hair follicles undergo a degeneration process wherein they go through repetitive hair cycle or phase. With this, new hair follicles are created and formed. As mentioned, the four hair phases or cycle are Anagen, Catagen, Telogen and Exogen respectively. They follow a particular degeneration process and period of their own that sometimes may fail along the way.
One of the most vital phases of hair production is the anagen phase where new hair follicles are produced. This phase must be maintained to produce up to 90% of a person’s hair follicles in the scalp. But this ratio can be subjected to intense change caused by pregnancy, illnesses and distress that results to hair loss.
During this phase, the significant loss of shafts in the hair is termed Anagen Effluvium. Let’s take a closer look on this medical case. Discover the causes, symptoms and its difference to other effluvium.
Anagen Efflivium – What is It?
One of the most common disorders that concerns the hair follicle cycle is the Anagen Effluvium. It’s a condition characterized by sudden loss of hair during the anagen phase. This event impairs one’s metabolic or mitotic activity of your hair follicle.
With the many cases of hair loss, anagen effluvium is a lot different. It develops faster than any effluvium cases that may lead to complete loss of hair. Usually, this condition is seen in individuals who regularly take cytostatic drugs commonly used for cancer patients.
You should know that this happens at a rapid phase to the extent that some patients may pull their hair using their bare hands. During the first two weeks, you’ll notice that your hair starts to respond quickly with the environmental factors and challenges.
What Causes Anagen Effluvium?
Some environmental factors cause hair cells either of these two situation – prevent the key or major enzymes from transforming into essential steroids vital for keratinization process or stop the hair cells from dividing.
Once the hair experienced an extreme shock from its surrounding, it can become brittle making it break away even with minimal effort.
Some of the causes of the Anagen Efflivium are the following:
- Oral contraceptives
- Malnutrition/poor nutrient intake
- Iron deficiency
- Poisoning from Vitamin A
- Chronic infection
- Drugs for chemotherapy (those with anti-mitotic agent)
Chemotherapy Drugs contain elements that prevent the rapid growth of hair cell. If not taken immediate action, it may result to abrupt and unexpected shut down of one’s hair fiber production.
Some inflammatory diseases such as alopecia areata, systemic lupuc erythematosus are also a threat to the normal metabolic activity of hair cycle that may lead to anagen hair loss.
These diseases usually results to anagen arrest affecting a number of individuals all over the world.
Based on clinical studies and observations, the most common cause of anagen effluvium are radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This is due to agents that inhibit the production of hair follicles. These agents can affect a large percentage of your scalp leading to 80 to 90% of hair loss.
Symptoms of Anagen Effluvium
What exactly happens to your hair during an anagen effluvium? With this condition, the hair follicles affected by anagen effluvium tend to break off from the shaft instead of shedding from its root.
Upon reviewing a person’s medical history will a doctor can diagnose if you’re impacted with anagen effluvium or not. Your doctor may require some examinations in your scalp to see other possibilities.
Once you are positive of anagen effluvium, you may experience the symptoms including increase in mercury level in the hair, urine and even in blood. Commonly, mercury intoxication due to extreme industrial exposure trigger the development of anagen effluvium thus, mercury poisoning also leads to loss of hair.
Meanwhile with boric acid intoxication, a person may experience hair loss due to ingestion of pesticides and other household products. With this, homeowners may get anagen effluvium. A patient may experience symptoms including hemorrhagic diathesis, gastrointestinal pain, exfoliation and elevated level on the blood boric acid.
Thallium poisoning is another anagen effluvium causing agent. Patients diagnosed of this case experience some neurologic symptoms such as ataxia, irritability, convulsions and a lot more.
Other symptoms for anagen effluvium may not be detected easily even by doctors or medical professionals but once you see these symptoms mentioned, you should consult your physician immediately for the best treatment.
The Difference Between Anagen Effluvium and Telogen Effluvium
If you have been trying to do your own research about hair loss, for sure you already have encountered not only anagen effluvium but telogen effluvium as well. There’s a huge difference between the two and it’s a must for you to know the big dissimilarity.
Anagen and Telogen are two of the four phases of hair growth cycle.
Both phase can experience what we call effluvium or hair loss. In the case of telogen effluvium, it’s the second well known kind of hair loss.
Telogen is the resting phase which last up to 3 months. During this phase, an average person may lose approximately 100 hair per day. But to a person who is a telogen effluvium patient, he may lose hair more than this number due to several reasons like hormonal balance, stress and many more.
With Anagen Effluvium, the hair loss pattern can be similar with telogen effluvium only that it happens during the growing phase. An individual may experience about 90% loss of hair more than the quantity of hair that grows within the anagen phase.
Some people may be confused between the differences of these two but with this brief explanation, things may be cleared now. Anagen Effluvium isn’t a typical hair loss case. Once you see the sign, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
10 Treatment Options for Anagen Effluvium You Might Not Know
Is there really a cure for Anagen Effluvium? Certain medications are meant to help treat anagen effluvium but they are not proven 100% effective yet. According to experts, eliminating the environmental irritator or stressor can be enough to allow the hair to grow again given that the hair follicles aren’t destroyed completely.
In fact, most individuals who have recovered from chemotherapy can have their hair back once the treatment is done.
For people who are suffering from Anagen Effluvium, here are 10 Treatment Alternatives that they can choose from. Discover how these treatments work for Hair Loss.
A topical 2% Minoxidil Solution should be taken twice a day by the patient to fasten the growth of hair. It can lessen the severity of hair loss but could not totally prevent it.
Usually, this solution is used in aiding hair growth particularly among men with pattern baldness. It’s actually a generic medication that you can buy over the counter.
Using corticosteroids for treating anagen effluvium has been found out a successful approach for mild cases of baldness or loss of hair.
Corticosteroid creams are applied to the affected area of the scalp but some prefer injecting the corticosteroid solutions directly on the bald patches. For some patients this may work however, skin thinning on the area where the solution is must be observed or monitored.
The skin may appear thin than the normal as the effect. Bone thinning can also be a result of this treatment especially for those who undergo the systemic corticosteroids approach.
3. Cyclosperine A
Also known as CyA or ciclosporin A, Cyclosporine A has shown beneficial effects to anagen effluvium patients based on several test and studies. This drug targets the immune system allowing hair growth to some patients who showed compatibility with cyclosporine A.
There had been several studies made to know the efficiency of CyA as a topical treatment for anagen effluvium and other types and cases of hair loss. In the end, the results say that the drug can be an alternative treatment but there’s no assurance of complete healing.
4. Patient Education
Experts say that Hair Loss is sometimes psychological; the more that the patient think that he’ll lose hair, the higher the possibility that it will happen. One of the best ways to treat anagen effluvium is for the patient to know the key steps to cope with the condition.
By knowing and believing that they can be treated from hair loss, completion of the treatment can be a lot faster. Patients with chemotherapy-induced alopecia can experience a normal hair growth once the treatment is completed.
5. Responsible Hair Care
Once you’re diagnosed with anagen effluvium, your hair will start to get thin and brittle slowly. With this, you should start taking care of your hair better than you do now.
Responsible hair care includes the following:
- Avoiding chemical touches on hair like coloring, bleaching etc.
- Using satin pillowcase for sleep
- Using soft and wide-teeth brush
- Cutting hair for a fuller look
- Washing hair only when necessary
- Using organic and gentle shampoo
6. Scalp Tourniquet
A scalp tourniquet is a pneumatic device usually used during a chemotherapy infusion. The tourniquet is placed surrounding the hairline meant to obstruct the blood flow temporarily.
Some studies and experiments have proven scalp tourniquet effective to treat anagen effluvium but to random patients only.
Since our body reacts differently to certain medications, there are instances that the treatment may be effective to some but not for the others. A number of agents and factors have also been considered.
7. Scalp Hypothermia
With scalp hypothermia, cooling agents are applied to the scalp with a temperature not lower than 24°C. Using cooling cap, there can be a constant cool temperature on the scalp.
The cooling effect may also last once there’s a cold liquid or air applied on the cap. This treatment may cause patients headaches, discomfort, messiness and cumbersome units.
Scalp hypothermia is also found effective for anagen effluvium when used along with paclitaxel, actinomycin, vincristine and other well known drugs.
8. Pharmacologic Intervention
The good thing about anagen effluvium is that it can be treated through drug medications. Calcitriol, calcipotriol and calciniurin are only some of the common drugs for medicating anagen effluvium.
These drugs are effective in reducing the severity of hair loss. At some point, they create a protective layers in the hair follicles to promote healthy growth of hair.
There may be distinct effects of these drugs mentioned but they have one similar beneficial effect that is to cure this type of hair loss.
9. Healthy and Balanced Eating
Almost all illnesses can be cured by nutritious food and healthy living. If you’re goal is to treat anagen effluvium then you should consume food that promotes hair growth and a strong immune system.
Poor nutrition is one of the common causes of hair loss so combat it by allowing your cells to consume only those that is nutritious and healthy. Take protein-rich foods for vigorous growth of new hair follicles.
10. Oral Contraceptives
Among women with anagen effluvium, oral contraceptives can be an optimal treatment for hair loss. Pregnancy causes some women to lose hair that is why to prevent the condition, taking oral contraceptives is a potential alternative. Birth control pills reduce the development of ovarian androgens.
You may consult your doctor to prescribe you the right pills that suit your needs. You can ask for help from medical experts anytime you want regarding this matter.
Here is a Video by Sam Lam to let you better understand this type of Hair Loss and the treatment options you have:
Anagen Effluvium management or treatment can be difficult especially when you don’t know what really fits you. Given these options, you can randomly choose which one you think is suitable for you. Will you opt for chemical treatments, organic or drug medication? The choice is up to you.