Hair loss is more commonly associated with men than with women. But women are just as susceptible to losing hair as their male counterparts. However the forms taken by hair loss in women are slightly different.
Now, a recent study has cast new light on the causes of hair loss in women. The research was led by Dr Bahman Guyoron, chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Ohio, US. They found that divorce, excessive smoking and drinking were all major factors in the development of hair loss in women.
The researchers studied 84 female identical twins, via visual analysis of hair, blood tests and comprehensive lifestyle questionnaires. They used identical twins with matching genes so that genetic differences would not be a factor in any hair loss suffered. According to the research, disregarding genetic reasons for hair loss, divorce is a prominent predictor of hair loss in women, with divorcees apparently being far more likely to suffer from hair loss than happily married or single women.
Stress and women’s hair loss
Dr Guyuron commented that, “most likely, stress is the aspect of a troubling divorce that appears to lead to hair loss among women.”
Other leading causes of women’s hair loss pinpointed in the study include heavy smoking and binge drinking. Conversely, it was found that women who drank coffee and used adequate protection when out in the sun were less likely to suffer from hair loss.
It’s interesting to note that those in the high-risk divorcee group are also perhaps more likely to indulge in excessive smoking and drinking behaviour than their peers. However it is not clear whether hair loss in such cases is due to the chemicals ingested during smoking and drinking, or whether it is merely that those who are under stress are more prone to smoking and drinking heavily.
Speaking to Healthday, Dr Doris Day, a dermatologist at New York’s Lennox Hill Hospital, said, “it’s not a shock to suggest that various kinds of stress can lead to hair loss…in the end, I am a big proponent of the idea that it’s how you handle the stress that can make a difference. The mind and body connection is incredibly powerful. It helps to try and keep perspective, put the big things that happen in life, the major milestones, in their place and keep an open mind.”
Stress and hair loss
As Dr Guyoron says, the reason for this correlation between divorce and hair loss in women is likely to be the stress suffered when going through a troublesome divorce, and dealing with the break-up of the marriage.
In the case of Alopecia Areata, the exact cause of the condition is a mystery, but it has been significantly linked with stress. It is an auto-immune condition in which the body’s own defences attack healthy hair follicles, resulting in hair shedding and ceasing to grow. It is most commonly experienced as patchy hair loss, but in some individuals it can progress to encompass the entire scalp (Alopecia Totalis), or even the whole body (Alopecia Universalis).
Telogen Effluvium is a hair loss condition which can be caused by sudden shock or severely stressful circumstances, such as child birth, accidents, divorce and other life-altering events. Such stress causes more hair follicles than usual to enter the resting, or telogen phase. Once normal shedding takes place and the hairs are not re-grown, hair loss is noticed. The hair loss may not be noticed until many months after the stressful event that caused it. While distressing, Telogen Effluvium is usually only temporary.
Treatment for stress-induced hair loss in women
Here at the Belgravia Centre we have helped countless women to regain their confidence following hairloss. Our hair loss experts can identify the underlying causes of your hair loss, and then tailor a programme of effective treatment for female hair loss.
If you’ve suffered hair loss which you think might be caused by stress, or by anything else, get in touch with the Belgravia Centre. Contact us to arrange a consultation at our London clinic, or fill in our online diagnostic form to arrange a home-use treatment kit which can be posted anywhere in the world.