Everyone gets stressed from time to time but what happens when stress becomes a regular part of daily life? Or when a person faces an emotional upheaval such as divorce, redundancy or the death of a loved one. One of the physical symptoms of stress can be hair loss. Here is some information to explain how stress affects hair growth and expert advice on treatment.
What is Stress-Related Hair Loss?
Stress, illness, medications, childbirth and rapid weight loss can all cause a type of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium. This causes thinning hair all over the scalp. It is often a temporary condition where the hair growth returns to normal approximately six to twelve months after the event.
However, in some cases it can trigger Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss in those with the ‘balding gene’. For those people already experiencing these forms of hereditary hair loss, stress can accelerate the rate of shedding. These permanent, genetic conditions may require treatment to prevent severe all-over hair thinning or baldness.
Extreme stress, sudden shock or trauma are all thought to contribute to the onset of the autoimmune condition Alopecia Areata. This presents as rounded bald spots or patches anywhere on the scalp and, whilst in this mild to moderate form alopecia areata treatment can be successful in regrowing hair, there are versions of this condition – alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis – for which an effective treatment is yet to be found.
How Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
When a person feels intense stress – whether emotional or physical, the body releases a large amount of adrenaline; this transmits a signal to the hair follicles which causes them to enter the telogen (resting) phase early, where they stay for three months. During this phase there is no new hair growth. This results in an uneven hair growth pattern which leads to thinning hair and then hair loss.
Why Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
As hair is considered to have a non-essential body function, the body will react to stress in a way that it considers being least harmful, hence the hair growth cycle can be affected.
How to Treat Stress-Related Hair Loss
It is important to resolve the issue that is causing the stress or learn how to manage the stress so it has a lesser impact.
Examples of how to deal with ‘small’ stresses include taking up a hobby you enjoy, exercise, meditation, spending time with friends and reading. It is important that this becomes a regular part of your routine to help the body relax and release tension. For stress that is more severe, such as divorce, workplace bullying, job loss or the death of a loved one, it is advisable to seek the help of a counselor, support group or therapist.
Once the underlying stress is being managed, it is possible to use hair loss treatments to help restore the hair growth cycle to its optimum condition. There are two hair loss products that have been proven to be effective and safe. Treatment courses featuring Minoxidil (suitable for men and women) can be tailored to suit each individual and, when used alongside the correct combination of hair growth boosters, can restore normal, strong and healthy hair production.
Where there is underlying genetic balding, or where stress-related hair loss has triggered male pattern baldness in men with an inherited predisposition, finasteride 1mg can also be taken. This once-a-day oral tablet is only suitable for men aged 18 and over.
Whatever is causing the hair loss, trying to cope with it can add to the stress already being experienced. A specialist will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis, answer any questions you have and discuss treatment options. This kind of support can be invaluable, as we often hear from clients who feel like a weight has been lifted once they take that first, proactive step of having even just an initial consultation and find out that help and support is available.
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.