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Diffuse Hair Loss: Causes & Treatment

Diffuse Hair Loss: Causes & Treatment

Medical Director Dr. Hans-Georg Dauer

11 min

January 5, 2022

Hair loss is not an individual fate. On the contrary: we all have to struggle with it. Every day we have to say goodbye to 50 to 100 hairs. This is no reason to worry at all. This amount of daily hair loss is completely normal.

We should only start to worry once our hair loss passes the 100 mark. If we say goodbye to more than 100 hairs a day, we should seriously consider if something is wrong.

But not only the number of lost hairs says something about our state of health. The type of hair loss also provides plenty of insight about our wellbeing.

With circular hair loss (alopecia areata) and hereditary hair loss (alopecia androgenetica), the hair usually only thins out in certain areas. It is different with diffuse hair loss, the so-called alopecia diffusa. In this case, the entire head thins out. Step by step, the entire head of hair loses its fullness and vitality.

But how does diffuse hair loss actually occur? How does it become noticeable? And what can I do about the bald patches?

Diffuse Hair Loss: What Exactly is it and What Forms are There?

Those who suffer from diffuse hair loss do not complain about individual bald patches on the scalp. The opposite is the case. The entire scalp hair loses volume, so that increasingly the scalp shines through the top hair.

It’s not uncommon for patients to suspect the first signs of alopecia diffusa because of circular hair loss or a receding hairline. However, this suspicion is only very rarely confirmed. Only in very few cases is circular hair loss or receding hairline considered a precursor of diffuse alopecia.

But how exactly can diffuse hair loss be diagnosed?

The fastest, easiest and most reliable way to determine the circular hair loss is with the help of a hair analysis. The dermatologist refers to this as a trichogram. Within a very short time, the modern procedure checks the current condition of the hair roots and allows conclusions to be drawn about the potential cause of the hair loss.

You can have a trichogram done not only in the nearest dermatology practice. You can also do this at HAIR & SKIN. Our experts effortlessly determine the condition of your hair roots and provide you with a reliable diagnosis for the disorder of your hair growth.

Good to know: Did you know that there are two different forms of alopecia diffusa and that they are related to the different growth stages of your hair? Sounds interesting, huh? So let’s get to the bottom of it together. Which forms of diffuse hair loss might we encounter, and what does our hair cycle have to do with it?

Our Hair Cycles Test: What Phases Does our Hair go Through?

In principle, the dermatologist distinguishes between two main forms of Alopecia diffusa. And usually, these different forms are not purely coincidental. They are always related to the different growth phases of our hair cycle.

Phew, that sounds pretty complicated? Don't worry, it's simpler than it sounds. With a little background knowledge, you’ll understand all of the jargon regarding hair loss. So what are we waiting for? Let's shed some light on the darkness.

Did you know that your hair goes through exactly three stages of growth throughout its life? These are:

  • The growth phase (anagen phase): The majority of your hair is on a growth trajectory right now. A full 80 to 90 percent are busy producing new cells that will make your hair longer and stronger. And this phase is anything but a short interlude. On the contrary: it lasts for two to six years.
  • The transition phase (catagen phase): Once the growth phase is complete, the so-called catagen phase, better known as the transition phase, follows. Within two weeks, the busy hair roots lay down their office and completely stop cell production - enough of the drudgery already. Once cell production comes to a halt, the hair stops growing. Instead, it pushes out of the scalp step by step. This transition mode, however, only affects a tiny portion of your hair. Only one percent is currently in the catagen phase.
  • The resting phase (telogen phase): Old becomes new - that's the motto in the resting phase. Your scalp says goodbye to the good old hair. But the farewell doesn't last long. As soon as the old hair falls out, a new one follows. And now the whole thing starts all over again - growth phase, transition phase, rest phase. Our hair follicles remain in this suspended state for a maximum of four months - and not very many hair follicles either. Only ten to 20 percent are currently going through the resting phase.

Telogen Effluvium

One of the main forms of diffuse hair loss is called telogen effluvium. It usually occurs two to three months after the cause of hair loss - whether after a disease or after a damaging event.

But what exactly happens in telogen effluvium? It’s quite simple: A noticeable number of hair roots suddenly go into the dormant phase, the so-called telogen phase - hence the name telogen effluvium. Now they are in failure mode and are lost a short time later.

But there is also good news: Once the trigger for telogen effluvium is found and fixed, hair loss can be put to a halt. You just have to be a bit patient, because it can take anywhere between six and twelve months before your hair grows back strong and full again.

In rare cases, telogen hair loss lasts more than four to six months. Repeated phases of loss also remain the exception.

In reality, it can affect anyone - in all age groups. What is striking about telogen effluvium is that women tend to complain about diffuse hair loss more often than men.

Anagen Effluvium

The more acute form of diffuse hair loss is called anagen effluvium. In this case, the hairs do not only leave in the resting phase, but already in the growth phase, i.e. in the anagen phase. And it is precisely from this that the technical term anagen effluvium is derived.

What’s striking is that in anagen effluvium, the hair is lost rapidly. Already one to two weeks after the time of the damage, the hair follicles say goodbye to the hair coat. Thus, this form of hair loss is comparable to the sudden and rapid hair loss after chemotherapy, radiation or even the side effects after severe poisoning with heavy metals.

But even with this extreme form of hair loss, there is good news: after successful treatment of the cause, hair growth usually resumes on its own - sometimes even stronger than before. Even the hair structure can change. Suddenly curly hair turns into straight hair or straight hair into curly hair.

However, the exact cause of the altered hair structure is not yet known. To this day, it remains a mystery to researchers around the world.

The Most Common Causes of Diffuse Hair Loss

If you want to treat diffuse hair loss as quickly as possible, you need to know its cause. And that is precisely the big challenge. After all, the disease is a real running man. Sometimes it occurs after pregnancy, sometimes after taking medication. Other times, malnutrition is the culprit.

A short introduction to the possible causes of diffuse hair loss comes at the right time. Let's get to the bottom of the most common triggers together.

Hormonal Fluctuations

In women, diffuse hair loss is often associated with hormonal fluctuations. The contraceptive pill alone has its finger in the pie again and again - no matter whether you start taking it, change the preparation or after discontinuing the pill.

The reason for the hormonal changes: The contraceptive interferes so strongly with the female hormone balance that it can have a massive effect not only on our skin appearance, but also on our hair structure.

After pregnancy, exactly the same phenomenon can be observed. Suddenly, estrogen levels drop rapidly. And the lower the level of estrogen, the higher the probability of diffuse hair loss.

But not only after stopping the pill or after pregnancy, many women report diffuse hair loss. Also, the onset of menopause often thins our mop of hair. Once again, hormonal changes are to blame. The body gets out of balance and reacts with hair loss.


Drugs are also by no means innocent in diffuse hair loss. Quite the opposite: Some preparations are already known for the side effect "hair loss" - above all, drugs against high blood pressure such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors seem to be the antagonist.

How about a little review of all the critical medications:

  • Antibiotics
  • Heparin (blood thinner)
  • Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives)
  • Lipid-lowering drugs (preparations that lower blood levels)
  • Thyrostatic drugs (drugs for the treatment of thyroid diseases)
  • Analgesics (painkillers)
  • Cytostatic drugs (drugs used in chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer)


Not infrequently, diffuse hair loss can also be interpreted as a special warning signal from our body. This is its way of alerting us to a serious illness - but which one?

There’s not an easy answer to this. After all, diffuse hair loss is considered a typical side effect of many different diseases - for example:

  • Thyroid Diseases
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Psoriasis
  • Heavy metal poisoning

Incorrect Hair Care

He who cares for his hair diligently, can do no wrong? Unfortunately, no! Often the opposite is the case. If you are encouraged to do too much to your hair, it quickly feels overwhelmed. The consequence: with a heavy heart, we have to say goodbye to our full head of hair.

So when it comes to washing, less is more. Three to four times a week is already enough. Anything else would only unnecessarily stress the hair roots and scalp. The same applies to styling. If you use a hairdryer, straightener and curling iron less often, you'll enjoy your stunningly voluminous mane for much longer.

But it's not only how much, but also what that matters when it comes to hair care. You are best advised to use high-quality shampoos without silicones and parabens. Because it is precisely with these chemical additives that our hair is at war with. One moment they make it wonderfully soft and silky, but the next moment they dry it out.

The natural protective film of our hair is lost. And the weaker this protective film, the drier, more brittle and lifeless our hair. In the worst case, we even lose it entirely.

Nutrient Deficiency

A healthy diet is the key to healthy hair. As long as our body gets everything it needs, our mop of hair will shine. But what if it doesn't? What if it's missing an essential nutrient?

In this case, we must expect diffuse hair loss. Because every nutrient deficiency costs our hair coat its fullness, strength and vitality - no matter whether it has to do with eating disorders, diets or one-sided nutritional concepts, such as veganism.

Our hair is especially on the brink in case of an iron deficiency. If our body does not have enough iron available, it often defends itself with diffuse hair loss.

The good news: Most of the time, a nutrient deficiency can be remedied quickly and easily. With a healthy and balanced diet, the lost volume returns quickly. Food supplements are also a valuable support in case of malnutrition. They reliably supply our body with additional minerals.

How to Treat Diffuse Hair Loss?

You can breathe out a sigh of relief: Most of the time the disturbed hair growth regulates itself again. All you need on the way to normality is a little patience. After one or two months at the latest, the top of your head will be back to normal. Just give it some time to naturally regrow.

Only in extreme cases does it take longer for our appearance to look youthful and fresh again. However, you can speed up the regeneration process a little - be it with a balanced diet or with a hair transplant. These treatments actively help hair growth:


Selected active ingredients such as minoxidil or finasteride have been proven to stimulate stagnant hair growth - whether in tinctures, shampoos or medicines. Biotin also achieves promising results. The vitamin H is nicknamed the beauty vitamin. And rightly so, after all, it has a positive effect on hair and skin.

If the diffuse hair loss is related to a nutrient deficiency, it is worthwhile to opt for high-quality food supplements. If you suffer from an iron deficiency, for example, you can restore your damaged hair more quickly with iron supplements from the pharmacy or health food store.

PRP Treatment

Are you craving a natural hair growth booster that will give you back your old volume in record time? This couldn’t be any easier! HAIR & SKIN autohemotherapy gently wakes the hibernating hair roots out of their slumber.

The principle is simple: our experts take a small amount of your own blood and prepare it using a special procedure. With the help of a centrifuge, they isolate the precious red blood cells. These are real protein boosters for your hair.

As soon as the natural treasure of your blood comes into contact with the scalp, it effectively boosts limp hair growth. Imagine it being a delicious wake-up call for tired hair roots, so to speak.

Hair Transplant

If the old hair just won't return after diffuse hair loss, a hair transplant at HAIR & SKIN is worthwhile. With the help of the innovative FUE method, our experts gently and effectively fill in your thinning hair. After just a few weeks it will look noticeably stronger, fuller and healthier - almost as if someone had turned the clock for you.