I get a lot of questions about shampoo choices for people who have telogen effluvium. The weird thing about this is that most people who have telogen effluvium know that there really should not be anything wrong with their scalp or with their follicles. With true telogen effluvium, the hair is falling out because of some sort of stress or illness that caused the hair to switch from the growing phase to the shedding phase. Theoretically, after some time, the cycle should switch back, which is when your hair should stop shedding and then start growing again. And this is the case regardless of the shampoo that you are using.
Many of us know this intellectually. But, we want to feel like we are doing something to help our hair recover. And this is where the search for the perfect shampoo comes in. Many people will look for “natural” ingredients or a shampoo that doesn’t have sodium laurel sulfate, thinking that perhaps this ingredient may have been what started the shedding in the first place.
Other people will focus on shampoos that promise to clear the follicles of debris or to lessen dihydrotestosterone (also known as DHT.) Still others want the shampoo that is as gentle as it can possibly be – so they opt for something incredibly gentle – like baby shampoo. I understand the thinking behind this and I tried these things also. But the shampoos that ended up helping me were not what I expected, although now I understand why.
Of course, I’m sure that everyone is different, but I got the best results with dandruff shampoos. And here is my theory on why. Dandruff shampoos lessen inflammation on your scalp. When you have telogen effluvium, you are having a lot of follicles shedding out hair all at once. This can cause inflammation – which is why your scalp can turn red or pink and you get that tight, tingly or painful feeling when you’re acting shedding a lot of hair.
Dandruff shampoos help to combat this. No, I can’t tell you that any shampoo stopped my shedding. Because until your follicles switch back to the growing phase, the shedding will probably continue. But, in my case, I would often pay close attention to how my scalp felt and how much shedding I had when I used different shampoos. And without any question, I got the best results with the dandruff shampoos. And I do not have dandruff, but I believe that they were helping to cut down on the inflammation – which when unchecked, was making the hair loss worse.
Again, every one is different. I can’t promise that this will work for you. But if your scalp is painful or pink or red, then this may indicate that you have a little inflammation so that any active ingredient that can combat this might be worth a try. Some use tea tree oil for this also.
But an anti inflammatory of any kind makes sense to me. Because when you have telogen effluvium, you are not losing hair due to DHT or any other scalp condition. You are losing it because of what is happening internally. But the shedding can cause an inflammatory reaction within the scalp and follicles which if left unchecked can, at least in my experience, create a cycle which can prolong the shedding or make it worse.