Stress & Hair Loss
Our bodies are a network of interconnected systems — meaning that very few health-related things happen to us in isolation. Stress is no exception. Many types of stress start in the mind, and then go on to have immense effects on our physical wellbeing.
This is certainly true of our hair — and it is why, at Philip Kingsley, we take a holistic approach to hair care. Stress results in hair loss far more than most people realise, and we consider stress management an important part of most hair-loss treatment plans.
It is important to note that stress will usually not cause hair loss straight away. Most hair loss you experience will present itself anywhere from 6-12 weeks after a stressful event, due to the nature of your hair growth cycle.
If you are worried about any form of hair loss, our Clinics in London and New York specialise in all aspects of hair and scalp health, and will be pleased to welcome you.
The 4 Main Types of Stress-Related Hair Loss
1. Stress and Telogen Effluvium: excessive daily hair shedding
Telogen effluvium is a form of diffuse (widespread, non-concentrated) hair loss on your scalp. It occurs when the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle is cut short by an internal disturbance in your body. This causes many more hairs than usual to move from their anagen phase into their telogen (shedding) phase, resulting in excessive daily hair fall.
Stress is one of the most common causes of telogen effluvium. This is because when we are stressed we often do not look after ourselves as we should. For instance, we may skip meals or eat more processed foods than usual – which, while convenient, have little nutritional benefit. Stress also impacts digestion and your body’s absorption of vital nutrients.
Because hair is a non-essential tissue, it is often the first thing to suffer if your body is lacking in nutrients. Vitamin imbalances, iron deficiency, inadequate protein intake, and meals that contain too few calories can all contribute to hair shedding.
Furthermore, stress affects our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness. Illnesses like the flu, high fevers and systemic upsets often trigger hair loss. For more information about diffuse hair shedding, please visit our guide to Telogen Effluvium.
2. Stress and Alopecia Areata: hair loss in areas
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes specific spots of baldness to appear randomly on your scalp. These are usually circular, and are often about the size of a coin, although they can be larger.
Alopecia areata is widely accepted to be an autoimmune disorder, where your body sees certain hair cells as foreign enemies and attacks them. What triggers this response is not entirely understood, but 90% of cases are associated with stress, shock, bereavement, illness, or an accident.
For more information, please see our article on Alopecia Areata.
3. Stress and Trichotillomania: hair pulling
Trichotillomania (also known as hair pulling disorder) is a form of hair loss caused by an irresistible urge to pull out your hair, either from your scalp or any other part of your body. It can result in small or large thin and bald patches, and it is often extremely distressing for those who suffer from it.
The causes of trichotillomania are psychological, and are often complex. Stress is a major contributing factor, as are anxiety, depression, or a traumatic experience.
For more information on hair pulling disorder, please visit our guide to Trichotillomania.
4. Stress and Androgenic Alopecia: hair thinning
Hair thinning in both women and men is genetic, and can be inherited from either parent. It is caused by a sensitivity in your hair follicles to a certain form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
If you have inherited follicle sensitivity, it will be triggered at some point after puberty (which is when your body starts to produce testosterone). Once the sensitivity is triggered, your hair follicles will gradually miniaturise and grow back thinner over the years, reducing the volume and length of your hair, and making your scalp more visible.
Stress can significantly intensify the effects of androgenic alopecia. One of the main reasons for this is that stress often increases your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol — and cortisol can in turn raise your body’s levels of testosterone.
For more information on androgenic alopecia, please visit our articles on Male Pattern Hair Loss and Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Treatment for Stress-Related Hair Loss
In general, the best way to treat stress-related hair loss is to find ways of managing and reducing your stress levels. We realise this can be challenging, especially in today’s busy world, but it is important. A balanced state of mind is beneficial to all aspects of your health. At Philip Kingsley, our holistic approach to hair care means that we consider stress management an important part of most hair-loss treatment plans.
At the Philip Kingsley Clinics, our expert Trichologists see many clients with stress-related hair loss. We often recommend, and see good success rates, with the following techniques:
Relaxation & meditation techniques
For example, yoga, pilates, meditation, mindfulness (either taking classes or downloading an app), cognitive behavioural therapy and excercise such as swimming, jogging or walking.
Consider alternative treatments for your stress-related hair loss
You may also want to talk to your doctor about alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or herbal remedies.
Stick to a consistent, nutritionally healthy diet
In terms of diet, we recommend that you do not skip meals. Try to eat at regular intervals, with healthy snacks as necessary. Well-formulated nutritional supplements can also be very helpful, providing your body with a boost of essential vitamins and minerals. These may also aid in immune system function.
Visit a Trichologist
It is always a good idea to visit a Trichologist if you are experiencing any form of hair loss, so that we may diagnose it correctly and help you identify the cause. Book an appointment at our [New York] clinic to determine how stress may be specifically affecting your hair.
Adopt a specialist haircare routine to stimulate re-growth from stress-based loss
We know that regrowth of hair can take time — so for people who wish to have immediately thicker-looking hair, our Trichologists developed the award-winning TRICHOTHERAPY® range. This highly effective regime targets thin hair, fine hair and shedding, while helping to strengthen your strands and reduce breakage. Our customer results have been outstanding. In independent user trials, 79% of women found their hair looked and felt fuller after 12 weeks of using Trichotherapy.