Former super model Tyra Banks has confessed that the stress of her latest business venture caused some of her hair to fall out. Banks is well-known as a model, actress and talk show host but has recently added “fiction writer” to her resumé.
As part of the promotional activities surrounding the release of her new novel, Banks told reporters from the Wall Street Journal that “I got a little alopecia from the stress”. She attributes the stress to the pressures involved in writing the book whilst meeting all her other professional obligations. Banks goes on to admit that her new book, “Modelland”, a dystopian fantasy, took five years to write.
Alopecia Areata causes patchy hair loss in both men and women. Often initiated by psychological long-term stress or a sudden shock, Alopecia Areata sees the body’s own immune system attack its own hair follicles, suppressing or stopping hair growth. As the hair stops growing, it also falls out causing bald patches of varying sizes lending the condition the name ‘spot baldness’.
Could it be something else?
Stress-related hair loss is not solely restricted to Alopecia Areata however. Telogen Effluvium, another form of hair loss has been strongly linked with stress. Telogen Effluvium is not however a disorder of the immune system.
Telogen Effluvium is caused by a hormonal reaction which causes hair follicles to enter a “resting” state, during which the attached strand of hair stops growing and eventually falls out. Although ten percent of a healthy person’s hair follicles may be resting at any given time, someone with Telogen Effluvium will have a much higher percentage affected, making the hair loss more apparent.
Other factors which could have a significant impact on a woman’s hair include medical conditions which affect the thyroid gland, or mineral deficiencies, such as low iron levels.
Which is more likely?
Although both Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium can be attributed to stress, it is far more likely that Tyra Banks’ hairloss is attributable to the latter in the opinion of Orr Barak, MD, a dermatologist at Main Line Dermatology in Philadelphia. Telogen Effluvium usually manifests after an extended period of emotional stress although hair usually only starts falling out two to three months after the initial stressor.
“Writing a book can definitely be a stressor that can lead to hair loss, or alopecia but in women with hair loss, doctors also have to rule out if the stressor is a thyroid problem or low iron levels. While these are rarely the causes, it’s more commonly an emotional stressor like Tyra is talking about,” he pointed out.
According to Tyra Banks, her other commitments, including filming America’s Next Top Model and managing her production company Bankable Productions, left her little spare time for anything relaxing whilst writing Modelland. “Honestly, chilling for me was eating a meal,” said Banks about the process, “and in hindsight that wasn’t healthy.”
If Banks was as busy as she claims, it is little wonder her health and hair suffered somewhat.
Telogen Effluvium – tell me more
Normally, between 80 and 90 percent of a person’s hair follicles are actively growing hair, a phase known as anagen. The remaining 10 to 20 percent of the follicles are in a resting state known as the telogen phase.
During emotional stress, hormonal changes can alter the body’s equilibrium, which in turn affects the hair’s growth cycle. In men and women experiencing Telogen Effluvium, the growth rate changes so, for example, 60 percent of the follicles remain in the anagen phase whilst the follicles in telogen increase to 40%. At this point, hair begins to fall out more noticeably, particularly during washing or brushing, leading to thin or bald patches.
Is it permanent?
Often hair lost through Telogen Effluvium grows back naturally within six to nine months, which is one of the reasons Tyra Banks’ hair appears to have returned to its usual full and glossy norm. Should the loss be more persistent, or worsening, a number of treatment options exist which could kick start the regrowth process.
For women, Minoxidil has been clinically proven to reverse hair loss by increasing the blood flow to the scalp and preventing hair follicles from shrinking. Licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK, Minoxidil is one of the primary treatments for hair loss.
As part of each client’s personalised treatment program, The Belgravia Centre’s hair loss experts may also recommend other complementary therapies designed to maximise regrowth. The Hair Vitalics dietary supplement is a specially selected combination of herbal extracts which may stabilise the hormonal imbalances which contribute to hair loss.
Regardless of whether Tyra Banks’ hair loss was attributable to Alopecia Areata or Telogen Effluvium, The Belgravia Centre have a proven track record success as evidenced by the glowing client feedback received on a weekly basis. To find out more about the Belgravia Centre tailor made treatment plans, or to arrange a free, no obligation session with one of our hair loss experts, please contact us.