Genetics may well be the number one cause of hair loss worldwide, but did you know that a person’s emotional well-being can trigger shedding or speed up the rate at which they lose their hair?
Psychodermatology is a medical field that deals with precisely this. Doctors investigate how a person’s emotions inform their skin and dermatological complaints, including various hair loss conditions.
How stress responses can affect the hair
According to physcodermatologist Dr Chytra V. Anand, of the Kosmoderma Skin & Hair Clinics in India, feeling stressed can affect our well-being in myriad ways due to the way our body responds. The chemical response triggered by the body when it encounters stress causes the skin to become both more sensitive and more reactive.
Dr Anand explains, “Take for example, acne. When you are tense, your body releases stress hormones, including cortisol, which may increase the skin’s oil production, making you prone to pimples.”
“Stress can worsen skin problems like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Stress can also cause hives and other types of skin rashes and trigger a flare of fever blisters. One may also suffer hair loss, a dry itchy scalp, eczema and psoriasis flare-ups on the scalp due to stress.”
There are three hair loss conditions in particular which are known to be linked to stress. Telogen Effluvium and Diffuse Thinning, also known as Chronic Telogen Effluvium both cause thinning hair from all over the scalp and are more often seen in women. Autoimmune hair loss from Alopecia Areata causes sudden onset rounded bald patches to the scalp only, though in its more extreme versions – Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis – it can cause baldness of the head, and from head to toe, respectively.
It is also understood that stress can accelerate Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss in individuals with an existing genetic predisposition. This can mean triggering the condition in those who have not yet presented with signs but have inherited an active ‘balding gene’, or speeding up hair loss in those already displaying signs.
Furthermore stress has a dehydrating, weakening effect on the body and essential nutrients required for healthy hair can be depleted during times of chronic stress. This can be why people affected by stress-related hair loss sometimes find that their hair becomes dull and dry.
Other hair-related issues connected to stress include compulsive twisting and pulling of the hair. This is a psychcological disorder known as trichotillomania. This often requires counselling, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, to address the root cause and help people to identify and learn not to react to triggers.
In terms of preventing stress in general, Dr Chytra advises that, “The best way to feel that you’re in good physical health is to undertake healthy behaviour. Change your environment to reduce stress, relax when you’re under pressure, and cope when there’s nothing you can do about the situation.”
On-going stress can also delay the body’s natural healing process in some cases, making recovery slower. It is important to identify what is causing the stress and tackle it either through lifestyle changes or with professional help – or a combination of the two.
When it comes to stress and hair health specifically, there are a number of additional steps that can be undertaken to minimise damage.
Stressed people are more likely to have erratic sleep patterns or suffer from a lack of sleep. When we sleep our body heals so losing out on vital downtime can worsen issues – including hairloss. Ensure you take steps to relax before bedtime and get into a regular sleep routine.
Other bad habits associated with feeling stressed include eating more junk food, drinking more alcohol and smoking more. All these issues are bad news for hair as well as overall health and should be replaced with a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Anyone concerned that their diet may still not be rich enough in hair-friendly nutrients can top-up using a targeted hair growth supplement such as Belgravia’s Hair Vitalics one-a-day tablets.
For those concerned that stress may be causing extra hair fall, this can add to their worries. The easiest way to get peace of mind is to have a scalp assessment with an experienced hair loss specialist. They can give a professional diagnosis, prognosis and advise upon not only influencing lifestyle remedies but also recommend bespoke hair loss treatment solutions based on the individual’s specific needs. When dealt with holistically, taking all of the patient’s requirements – both medical and emotional – into account, a supportive expert can provide both comfort and often significant results.
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.