Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

It’s no surprise that most of us are stressed. Stress can manifest itself in many ways, from increased blood pressure to skin troubles and weight gain. But did you know that stress can cause hair loss?

Take a look at how your stress may be impacting your hair health, from the hair loss professionals at Hans Wiemann.

Stress Before and During a Pandemic

Even before the pandemic, Americans have been known to be some of the most stressed-out people in the world. It’s a part of our daily lives, whether it’s the morning commute, planning your schedule, big tests or interpersonal conflicts.

And now we have COVID-19 to worry about. A Harvard study says that 55% of Americans reported being more stressed in May 2020 than they were four months prior. The disruption of our everyday lives, and even grief for those who may have lost loved ones to the coronavirus, can cause immense stress for all individuals. 

While being late for a big meeting once won’t cause your hair to fall out the next day, prolonged stress has been known to cause physiological changes.

How Stress Causes Hair Loss

Hair loss experts categorize stress-related hair loss in three ways:

Telogen Effluvium and Hair Loss

Telogen effluvium, or TE, is one of the most common reasons for hair loss. This condition happens when someone experiences extreme stress or a shop to the body, causing large numbers of hair follicles to go into the resting phase of growth.

A few months after the stressful event or shock, the strands that were affected may fall out while simply brushing or washing your hair. Often, hair loss from TE is not felt until months after the stressor or event.

Common examples of TE include:

Childbirth

It is not uncommon for women to lose hair after childbirth, given the sudden changes in hormones. This hair loss usually does not last long, and most women will see their hair growth resume within a few months. 

Strict Diets

Often individuals who suddenly switch to a restrictive diet to lose or gain weight rapidly experience physiological changes, such as hair loss. This is due to a lack of necessary nutrients and minerals. 

As always, talk to your doctor before switching diets to ensure you are getting the needed amount of vitamins and minerals, for both your body and your hair health.

Chronic Stress or Illness

Chronic stress or illness can take a massive toll on individuals’ well-being, and it can also cause persistent TE. In addition, medications used to manage chronic stress, pain or illness can influence hair growth.

Sudden Traumatic Event

Car accidents, surgery and even unexpected loss of a loved one can all cause TE because they cause a shock to your system. Hair loss from these types of events should be temporary, but is not uncommon.

Trichotillomania and Hair Loss

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes affected individuals to pull hair out from their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and other parts of the body. 

This can be a reaction to uncomfortable or negative feelings like stress, loneliness, boredom or frustration. Bald patches can develop over time, if the individual does not seek treatment for their trichotillomania. 

Alopecia Areata

While alopecia areata — or AA — can be caused by many factors, some dermatologists believe that severe stress may be a trigger. 

In AA, the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss from the scalp in patchy circles. This condition may cause hair loss as early as in childhood but can affect individuals of all ages.

In positive news, AA does not destroy hair follicles, so it’s possible for hair to regrow in the bald patches if the inflammation lessens.

If you’re experiencing stress-related hair loss, it’s understandable that you’d begin to stress out even more. But the best thing you can do is talk to your doctor if you have concerns. They may be able to detect an underlying issue you weren’t aware of or provide recommendations on how to lower the stress in your life.

Once you see your doctor, if you still have concerns about your hair, contact the hair loss experts at Hans Wiemann for a consultation. We’ve been here for St. Louis for decades and will work to address your unique situation with our state-of-the-art hair loss solutions.

Schedule your free hair and scalp analysis today or contact us for more information

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