I often hear from people who feel as if they are stuck in an endless cycle of hair loss. Many suspect telogen effluvium, simply because of the aggressive nature of their shedding. And some will concede that they had one trigger that started the whole process. But, many continue to shed even when the trigger has long passed. And that’s the point where it becomes normal to wonder if your body has just gotten stuck in a cycle of shedding, if this is even possible.
An example is something like: “I had my son over fourteen months ago. I’ve mostly been shedding hair ever since. Giving birth is the only trigger that I can pinpoint that could have started this chronic telogen effluvium. As far as I know, I’m not sick. I do not take medications or vitamins. I haven’t been using any new products or shampoos. I have the same health and hair routine that I have always had. And yet, I am still shedding just as much as I was in the beginning. Is it possible for your body to get stuck in the cycle of hair shedding even when there is no longer a trigger? I think that is what is happening in my case. I don’t notice any patterned hair loss or thinning. My hair appears to be growing back normally and it doesn’t appear to be miniaturized. But I can’t really gain any ground when it just keeps falling out and never slows down.”
I can sympathize. I know how this feels. I went through chronic telogen efflluvium and I couldn’t find any trigger either. I had a lot of blood work and even though there were some theories about my thyroid, my iron level, and my adrenal glands, no test was ever outright abnormal and no medical regimen seemed to help. So I developed my own theory about what might have been causing my chronic hair loss. I believe that there are triggers that aren’t seen and can’t be measured. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be real triggers that keep the shedding going so that it continues on and on. I believe that stress is a trigger. And I know that you might be thinking that you really don’t have a stressful job or a stressful life. But I totally believe from my own experience that dealing with hair loss for months at a time can be very stressful indeed. Picking spent hair off of your clothing is not a fun or carefree activity. Looking in the mirror and wondering if your scalp is covered can cause you emotional pain. I know that not every one agrees with this, but I suspect that some people who have been in this situation can at least follow my thinking. Whether you want it to or not, having hair loss can be stressful no matter how determined you are to deal with it in a positive and uplifting way.
I also believe that the inflammation to your scalp that can come from this aggressive type of shedding can also be a trigger. Many of us with this type of hair loss have tight, red, and painful scalps just dripping with inflammation that our body sees as an injury. Which in turn causes stress. This entire cycle can cause a spike in cortisol which, at least in my opinion, can also be a trigger.
This is just my opinion of course. I’m not a scientist or a doctor. But this is what I believe were contributing factors in my own case. I eventually worked very hard on lowering the inflammation and on dealing with the stress. These things helped significantly. So to answer the question posed, I believe that it’s possible to not have a trigger that you can see. And I believe that there are triggers that are not accepted or well known. Plus, I do think that when our body is under stress or change, that is sometimes trigger enough. At least for some of us.