Indeed, stress and hair loss are linked. Stress and hair loss, however, may not have to be everlasting. And if you manage your stress, your hair may grow back.
Consult your doctor if you observe abrupt or uneven hair loss, or if you notice greater hair loss than normal after combing or washing your hair.
Sudden hair loss might indicate an underlying medical problem that must be treated. If necessary, your doctor may also recommend treatment choices for your hair loss.
Stress levels are high, which may result in less hair on your head for some. Indeed, scientific evidence suggests that considerable emotional stress is associated to at least one form of hair loss: telogen effluvium.
Here’s what you should know about this prevalent form of stress-induced hair loss.
High stress levels can cause three forms of hair loss:
Significant stress causes telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um), which causes a large number of hair follicles to enter a resting phase. Affected hairs may come out abruptly when combing or washing your hair after a few months.
Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is an uncontrollable desire to pluck hair from your scalp, brows, or other parts of your body. Hair pulling can be used to cope with negative or unpleasant emotions such as stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, or irritation.
Alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh) is considered to be caused by a number of conditions, including extreme stress. Alopecia areata occurs when the body’s immune system assaults the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.
The connection between stress and hair cycle
On the adult scalp, there are roughly 100,000 hair follicles (although, this number may vary based on hair color). Each hair follicle alternates between growth and rest. At any one time, the majority of these hair follicles are in the growth phase (anagen).
Hair is lost when the hair follicle enters telogen, or the resting phase. A trigger triggers a quick, aberrant transition of hairs into the telogen phase all at once during an incident of telogen effluvium. One probable cause of this abrupt shift? Significant psychological distress.
What constitutes considerable mental stress? Consider a huge, bad life experience (i.e., loss of a loved one or divorce).
While a single poor day at work should not be considered, severe and chronic stress caused by the Covid-19 epidemic, for example, may.
Researchers purposely subjected mice to sound stress (a type of psychosocial stress) to examine the association between significant stress and hair loss and discovered that it induced early termination of anagen, or the growth phase of the hair cycle.
This study supported the idea that stress interrupts the regular cycling of the hair follicle and can result in hair loss.
Telogen effluvium symptoms
Hair loss caused by telogen effluvium is sudden, diffuse, and transient.
Telogen effluvium is distinguished by the sudden beginning of hair loss – but there’s a catch. Hair loss normally doesn’t start until three months following the triggering event. Why?
When hair follicles start the telogen phase early, it takes around three months for the cycle to complete and the hair to shed. Telogen effluvium can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, drugs, severe sickness, and childbirth.
Thinning all over
The hair loss pattern linked with telogen effluvium is diffuse. Patchy hair loss or broadening of the portion line is usually indicative of another condition, such as alopecia areata or female pattern hair loss.
People suffering from telogen effluvium may notice a thinner ponytail or an increase in shed hairs in the shower, on their pillowcases, or around the home.
It is common to shed 100-200 hairs each day (see this hair shedding scale for an example of 200 shed hairs), however, the precise amount varies depending on the individual or hair care routines.
While it is not unusual for up to 50% of scalp hair to be shed during a telogen effluvium, this disease does not result in total baldness.
It is only temporary.
Another piece of good news? The hair loss is transitory, and the density should rebound to pre-effluvium levels, albeit this process is often gradual. It can take months (though usually less than 6) for shedding to cease, and then months to years for lost hair to regrow at the slow pace of 12 inch per month.
In rare cases, hair may not entirely regrow to its original density. For one thing, telogen effluvium can reveal other kinds of long-term hair loss (such as female pattern baldness).
Furthermore, total hair density is predicted to gradually decline with age, and in a few cases (typically women aged 30-60), telogen effluvium can be chronic and linger for years.
Is it possible to avoid telogen effluvium?
Unfortunately, there is no established technique to prevent or stop telogen effluvium, and it will resolve on its own over time.
There are, nevertheless, a few items that may aid in general hair health. Consume a well-balanced diet, with an emphasis on protein (0.8 grams/kilogram/day).
Hair is mostly composed of protein (keratin), hence enough protein is essential for hair maintenance and growth. Avoid very tight haircuts, heavy heat styling, and chemical-based treatments, since they might contribute to hair loss or breaking.
Taking care of one’s mental health and exercising coping skills such as meditation can also assist to lessen the impact of a stressor.
Consult a dermatologist if your hair loss is persistent, spotty, or linked with redness, itching, or discomfort.