Gold medal Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius has been in the headlines after the tragic shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013. The South African sprinter has recently been convicted of the culpable homicide of his lover following a lengthy trial and now faces up to 15 years in prison.
The high profile nature of the case means that Pistorius has been under intense media scrutiny since the shooting in February 2014. Little wonder then that, as the case progressed and stress-levels rose, Pistorius appears to have begun shedding hair at an increased rate in an apparent case of stress-related hair loss.
Stress-related hair loss
Prior to the trial, Pistorius displayed a receding hairline, classically symptomatic of male pattern baldness. However, as the trial progressed, pictures show the steady development of unusual bald patches at the side and back of his head. Such patterns are not consistent with the typical signs of male hair loss, which only affects the top of the head.
Considering the circumstances Pistorius finds himself in, and the patchy appearance of the hair loss, it would appear that the athlete is experiencing some form of stress-related hair loss such as Alopecia Areata or Telogen Effluvium.
Stress is thought to play a large part in many hair loss conditions, so it is little surprise that Pistorius’s hairline is being greatly affected.
Telogen effluvium affects the natural hair growth cycle, causing hair follicles to enter their ‘telogen’ resting phase prematurely. The hairs attached to the affected follicles then fall out, leading to the development of thinning hair. In cases of Telogen Effluvium, the hair loss is not instant: it usually manifests around three months after the initial traumatic incident which triggered it.
Whilst Telogen Effluvium has been closely associated with severe emotional trauma and stress, due to the patchy hair loss suffered by Pistorius, this does not seem the most likely hair loss condition here.
When the bald patches Pistorius had developed grew back during his six month trial, the hair was almost white – a sign of Alopecia Areata. With Alopecia Areata caused by sudden shock or extreme stress, patches of hair loss may appear although the exact causes of this condition are not known. When the hair grows back, the pigmentation may have changed at first, although the colour does sometime return over time.
Hair loss treatments available
There are effective hair loss treatments available for both the stress-related hair loss conditions that could potentially be affecting Oscar Pistorius.
We see many clients with Alopecia Areata, characterised by patchy hair loss, at our clinics and offer bespoke minoxidil formulations which, depending on the stage and severity of the condition, can be extremely effective in treating this type of hair loss.
For most people affected by Telogen Effluvium, the condition is temporary and lasts up to six months. Hair should begin to regrow naturally as stress levels and overall health begin to return to normal. Hair loss treatment may aid the speed of this regrowth. Any damage to the appearance of the scalp and hair can also be assessed and treated by a hair loss specialist, who can also advise anyone concerned that their condition may have developed into Chronic Telogen Effluvium.
Where there is a combination of hair loss conditions at work, however, regrowth may not be quite so easy. Although the bald patches at the back of his head may regrow of their own accord, Pistorius’ hairline at the front of his head will not. He would need to follow a comprehensive hair loss treatment programme for male pattern baldness if he wanted to try reversing his genetic balding, as this will not right itself without specialist treatment.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.
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