Anagen Effluvium: The Science Behind Hair Loss

A Comprehensive Look at and Health

Hair loss can be a devastating occurrence for those experiencing it. Anagen effluvium is one type of hair loss that typically results after the body is exposed to a specific toxic substance. It can be puzzling to those affected – and even to medical professionals – because of its complexity. Here we will answer the most pressing questions about this type of hair loss.

What is Anagen Effluvium?

Anagen effluvium is sudden, widespread and usually severe hair loss. It’s usually a result of exposure to certain drugs, radiation or toxins. It can also be caused by underlying medical conditions or environmental factors. The cause of anagen effluvium is typically the disruption of the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle. This type of hair loss is often referred to as acute telogen effluvium.

See also  Understanding Telogen Effluvium: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

What Causes Anagen Effluvium?

Anagen effluvium is typically caused by exposure to radiation, drugs, toxins, an underlying medical condition (such as lupus or diabetes), or other environmental factors.

The most common causes of anagen effluvium are:

  • Chemotherapy medications: These drugs stop the growth of cancer cells but can also affect healthy, growing hair cells and interrupt the anagen phase of the hair cycle.
  • Radiation treatments: Exposure to radiation, specifically head, neck and chest radiation, can cause anagen effluvium.
  • Environmental toxins: Certain toxins, like air pollutants and heavy metals, can cause anagen effluvium.
  • Certain drugs: Some drugs, such as anticoagulants or retinoids, can cause anagen effluvium.

What Are the Symptoms of Anagen Effluvium?

The most common symptom of anagen effluvium is widespread, sudden hair loss. This can happen within a few days or weeks of exposure to substances that cause anagen effluvium. Other symptoms may include:

  • Thin, brittle hair
  • Dry, flaky scalp
  • Shedding of the hair

How Is Anagen Effluvium Diagnosed?

If you experience sudden, widespread hair loss, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Your doctor will take a medical history and may order blood tests or other laboratory tests to determine the cause of your hair loss. They may also do a physical exam to inspect your scalp, hair, and nails.

How Is Anagen Effluvium Treated?

The treatment for anagen effluvium depends on the underlying cause. If you’ve been exposed to a toxin or drug, the best treatment is to avoid further exposure. Your doctor may also recommend vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements to help treat your hair loss.

Can Anagen Effluvium Be Prevented?

In some cases, anagen effluvium can be prevented by avoiding exposure to toxins, radiation, drugs, and other environmental factors that can cause hair loss. If you are taking medications that may cause anagen effluvium, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk. In some cases, it may be possible to switch to a different medication that won’t cause hair loss.


Anagen effluvium is a type of hair loss that can be caused by exposure to certain toxins, drugs, radiation, and other environmental factors. It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you experience sudden, widespread hair loss. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your hair loss and will work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.