Losing your job. Getting married. Going through a very messy divorce. Being diagnosis with a serious health concern. What do all these have in common? They all can elevate your stress level for extended periods of time, resulting in bald patches or thinning hair.
Stress hair loss
Biologically each one of us is ‘wired’ to react differently; this includes how we respond to stress. For example the hormone cortisol is secreted in our bloodstream daily. In the mornings it is secreted at a lower level and gives us that burst of morning energy. At higher prolonged levels cortisol, also termed ‘the stress hormone,’ is responsible for several stress-related changes that can occur in the body when we feel anxiety or under pressure. Stress-related symptoms may include:
- Heart attack
- Gain weight
- Decreased muscle strength
- Moodiness or depression
- Hair loss
Types of hair loss associated with stress
Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shah) means hair loss and there are several types. According the American Academy of Dermatology, when a person has a medical condition called alopecia areata (ar-ee-AH-tah), the hair falls out in round patches. The hair can fall out on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. Alopecia areata can cause different types of hair loss. Each of these types has a different name:
- Alopecia totalis (lose all hair on the scalp)
- Alopecia universalis (lose all hair on the body)
When your body is stressed out it can cause your auto immune system to become strained. As the stress builds up, if you're the kind of person who implodes rather than explodes, you may experience thinning hair, and in more severe cases balding. Types of alopecia linked to stress:
- Anagen effluvium – hair loss occurs three months after a stressful event, like a bereavement or emotional stress
- Alopecia areata – the hair falls out quite quickly and in a circular pattern. When your body experiences a sudden increase in stress, an autoimmune disease known as alopecia areata can cause your body's immune system to mistakenly attack itself. In it's attack, it will damage your hair follicles causing hair loss. Depending on the severity of the stress, the amount of hair that will fall off may vary. Luckily, you can reverse this with proper hair care routines, like eating right, exercising, and using products formulated for hair health.
- Alopecia barbae – affects a man's beard
Other stress related causes for hair loss
- Telogen Effluvium - As one of the most common ways of losing hair through diffusion, cases of telogen effluvium has only risen in the past couple years. Telogen effluvium is a condition where hair falls out due to a stressful experience. The more stress the body goes through, the more hair will fall off. Some of the conditions that may lead to this include significant illnesses, surgery, life-changing events and childbirth. With the rise of COVID and the subsequent lockdowns, cases of telogen effluvium reported have done up.
- Trichotillomania - Trichotillomania is a disorder where there is an urge to pull one's hair off. This is usually an impulse that is caused by some sort of stimulation. Stress can be one of them, so when experiencing high levels of stress, people suffering with trichotillomania may begin to compulsively pull their hair in response. Stress isn't the only thing that may cause this, as even positive emotions can trigger hair pulling.
Does hair loss by stress grow back?
What can I do to help restore my hair?
- Diet - Eating healthy can provide a myriad of benefits to your body and hair. Especially if eating a diet that is rich in vitamin A and B vitamins, that will help in the production of new hair. Vitamin A is essential for a lot in the body, and for hair it helps with structure and health of the hair strands. B vitamins like biotin which is crucial for the development of new hair.
- Stop smoking - Smoking causes many issues in the body, not just hair loss. Smoking's damage to the hair is mainly from it interfering with other systems in the body that go towards generating new hair. From restricting blood vessels to decreasing that amount of oxygen that gets to the hair follicles, smoking will lead to hair loss if routinely used.
- Supplementation - Many of the foods you eat do have the vitamins and minerals that are needed to grow stronger and healthier hair. You can also take supplements if you know that the foods you are eating are now meeting the minimum that is needed to stimulate growth. You may also take supplements if your body is lacking in said vitamin or mineral. You can pickup these supplements at any drugstore and be taken with close eye to the instructions on the bottle.
- Physical exercise - Almost an complete opposite to smoking, maintaining excellent physical heath means your body is working at its best. Exercise means that your blood is pumping normally, which allows for all the nutrients your scalp and hair need for proper growth and health reaches its destination. A body in good health means that your hair will also be in good health.
Hair regrowth treatment
While the disease is not medically serious, it can be psychologically and emotionally devastating. The good news is there are hair loss treatments or both women and men available. The type of treatment that may be right for you will depend on the type of alopecia you have. In the case of many temporary types of alopecia, your hair will likely grow back without treatment. For alopecia areata, medications may help reduce hair loss. It is important to mention that some men using Propecia to treat male hair loss have experienced a decreased sex drive or had trouble getting an erection. Taking steps to manage your stress is not only good for your body; it can also be an option for minimizing hair loss due to stress. Try these techniques to reduce anxiety and anger. Practice deep breathing at the earliest signs of aggravation. Both meditation and yoga have been shown to be effective tools for managing stress. Go outside and enjoy nature, take short walks each day. Another healthy alternative is exercising at least three days a week for 20 minutes at a time. Exercise helps increases blood flow, which can be effective for helping your body reduce the effects of stress.
To learn about hair regrowth treatments options or to locate a Capillus specialist in your area click here or call Capillus for more information at (786) 888 6249 or Toll-Free at 1 (888) 272-9599.