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Elin Nordegren's Hair Fell Out From Stress - Telogen Effluvium Or Alopecia Areata At Play?

Elin Nordegren, the now former 30 year old Mrs. Tiger Woods has finally spoken out to People Magazine about what really happened when she discovered the news of his many affairs.   It has been reported that her hair fell out due to stress and she suffered insomnia along with weight loss.

(Image of Elin Nordegren - Former wife of Tiger Woods - DC Media - All Rights Reserved)

It's no surprise Elin's hair fell out in light of the many traumas she has suffered through over the past nine months after his famous crash in his SUV near his house.  When anyone goes through a series of major life changes like Elin has, it can seriously impact their physical well-being including loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia and extreme mental stress.

Telogen Effluvium

When someone undergoes a major life changing stress such as a death or divorce in the family, major weight loss, physical illness or other traumas a significant number of hairs on the head which are in the growing cycle are suddenly pushed into the resting phase.  Within a few weeks or months after the traumatic experience occurs the hair pushed into the resting phase may fall out.

Although this may seem to be a sudden event triggered by such simple actions as washing, combing or styling the hair, it actually is part of a hair loss condition known as Telogen Effluvium.  This stress related hair loss condition is tied to physical and mental stress.  Although anything is possible, Telogen Effluvium hair loss usually happens over a period of weeks or months and not overnight.

It's most likely that Elin Nordegren's hair fell out as a result of Telogen Effluvium since her journey of betrayal with her husband occurred over a period of nine months.  Telogen Effluvium is also the hair loss condition that may occur for some women during or shortly after pregnancy.

Alopecia Areata

Another stress related hair loss condition is known as Alopecia Areata.  This type of loss is more serious than Telogen Effluvium due to the fact the body's white blood cells attack the actual hair follicle completely halting the normal hair growth cycle.  With Telogen Effluvium the normal hair growth cycle is temporarily altered.  With Alopecia Areata it is completely stopped.

Alopecia Areata can present much quicker than Telogen Effluvium.  Within a matter of weeks the Alopecia Areata impacted hair falls out.  The hair loss usually starts as a small round patch which may slowly  spread to the entire scalp.  In some cases all of the body hair may fall out.

Alopecia Areata is more extreme then Telogen Effluvium where hair is loss throughout the entire head and not starting with round patches.

With both conditions the hair will generally grows back and the normal hair growth and loss cycle will resume.  For some people, once they have experience Telogen Effluvium or Alopecia Areata, they may experience the cycle again at some point in their life.

Two Pregnancies Combined With College And Cheating Spouse

Over the past three and a half years Elin Nordegren has experienced two pregnancies, a busy life which included taking college courses towards finishing a degree in psychology and shocking news of her husband's infidelities.    The beautiful blonde former model told People "the word 'betrayal' isn't strong enough."  She also told People "I've been through hell. It's hard to think you have this life and then all of a sudden - was it a lie?"

Pregnancy can sometimes trigger Telogen Effluvium due to the changes made to the body and the hormones.  Add the fact she was blindsided by Tiger's secret life with many women and you have a life situation ripe for a stress related hair loss condition such as Telogen Effluvium or Alopecia Areata.

The good news for Elin is that with both conditions the hair typically grows back when the emotional or physical stress is resolved.  Now that Elin's divorce is final and she can start to move on with her life, her stress levels will hopefully lower and her body can recover.  With both conditions, as the body normalizes so does the hair growth cycle, although this may take many months.

Help For Telogen Effluvium Or Alopecia Areata Hair Loss

Sudden hair loss, whether from a patch on the scalp or from  an unusual amount of hair falling during washing or combing can be due to stress or it can be a red flag signaling an underlying medical condition which can be serious or even life threatening.

It's always wise to talk to your personal physician if you experience sudden hair loss.  It can be something as simple as stress or it can be a hidden medical issue that needs to be addressed.

Your physician maybe be able to suggest treatment options for your hair loss once the situation has been properly diagnosed.

My History With Telogen Effluvium

I have had periods in my life where I experienced classic cases of Telogen Effluvium.  I have never experienced Alopecia Areata for which I am grateful.

My own Telogen Effluvium first occurred when I was still living in St. Louis and discovered to my shock and horror that a long term live-in love was having a secret affair.  Much like Elin I was completely blind sided.  Luckily my partner was not a famous athletic and he only had one other woman besides myself.  Of course that other woman was enough for us to go through a traumatic and permanent break up which threw me into a period of heightened stress.

Within three months of the beginning of the situation my hair starting coming out in clumps in the shower, in my comb and at night when I was sleeping.  I consulted with my dermatologist at the time who explained Telogen Effluvium to me and did not offer a prescription.  He advised me to work on overcoming the stress and promised my hair would recover.  It did.

The Return Of Telogen Effluvium After The Initial Experience

However, once I experienced that initial Telogen Effluvium it has returned twice since that point.  When I went on an extreme weight loss diet which lasted several months, I lost almost 50% of my hair.  When my husband died suddenly five years ago, I also lost about 25% of my hair over a three month period after his death.  A year ago when I altered my normal food plan towards a more vegetarian eating program, I noticed some hair loss a few months later.

In all cases my hair completely recovered regardless whether I took aggressive action or not.

Ultimately it's probably a great thing for Elin's hair recovery that she chose to speak out after her divorce and let the world know she was never violent to Tiger, or anyone, and was completely unaware of her husband's secret life with a string of women.  At least she has set the record straight about her role in the situation and can move on with her life.

Initially, Nordegren told People she tried to save the marriage, but realized it could not continue. She added that she hopes to forgive him one day.  For her sake and for the sake of her hair, I hope she can.

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