Right now, stress feels like the new normal—and an increase in stress can lead to changes in health as well. Stress is known to cause various health conditions such as hair loss. It’s very natural for hair to vary in texture and thickness throughout one’s life. Knowing this, it does not make it easier if you’re one whose hair is getting thinner seemingly with each passing day.
We at TABIIB would love to shed some light on the various causes of hair loss and how hair is influenced by stress.
Causes Of Hair Loss:
Did you know that the average human has roughly 100,000 hairs on their heads and they will lose around 50 to 100 hairs naturally per day?
If your hair is thinning or falling out, you are probably eager to find out why. Is hair loss due to stress, heredity, hormonal changes or any other factor? The response is “yes” to all four.
Normal Hair Loss
This may be a surprise, but our hair wasn’t meant to stay in your scalp indefinitely. There is a natural life span to each strand of hair after which it falls out naturally. We all lose about 100 hairs per day,2 out of the 100,000 contained by the average scalp.
This is due to a few factors:
- Ageing: After the age of 30 (and often before), men and women both start losing hair, though men tend to do so at a faster rate.
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of a single hair is 4.5 years; the hair then falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new hair.
- Styling: Shampooing, blow-drying, and brushing hair can all cause a few hairs to fall out; most of us do this regularly.
Hereditary Hair Loss
Genetic hair loss isn’t due to excessive amounts of hair falling out, as many believe, but to an insufficient amount of hairs growing back to replace the hairs that have been shed. The result, however, is the same: receding hairlines and pattern baldness.
- Age: By age 30, one in four men is balding; by age 60, two in three men are balding or bald.
- Gender: Hereditary, or “pattern” baldness, is much more common in men than in women.
- Hormones: Pattern baldness is associated with testosterone; 3 women who have more of it in their system as they age tend to lose more hair. This is also why more men experience pattern baldness.
- Thyroid Hormone:
Thyroid hormone regulates pretty much every process in your body. When the thyroid system becomes underactive, like with hypothyroidism, for example, your metabolism slows down, and the lesser important body functions get less attention. Sadly, hair (and skin) typically suffer first. Hyperthyroidism can manifest in anxiety, problems sleeping, restlessness, and irritability. If symptoms are present, check your thyroid levels and talk to your doctor about thyroid hormone therapy. In most cases, hair grows back once thyroid abnormalities are treated.
Hair changes in pregnancy are common; however, every woman is different and therefore hair changes are all individual. If hair loss is experienced in the postpartum period, most women will experience a full recovery, although the process may be slow.
Your estrogen levels are at their lowest when your period first starts. And as they dip, the level of iron in your body drops too, causing you to lose more hair than what’s normal. In fact, in some cases, heavy bleeding triggers hair loss and thinning.
How Stress Can Lead To Hair Loss?
You may have now understood how stress can induce hair loss. While the first three causes of hair loss are genetically programmed, hair loss due to stress is environmentally caused and may be more easily controlled if the stress can be managed.
Excessive physical or emotional stress—like that associated with injury, illness, or surgery—can cause one of two types of hair loss:
- Alopecia areata:
Here, this stress-induced hair loss is caused when the white blood cells in the body attack the hair follicles. The hair also falls out within weeks (usually in patches), but this can affect the entire scalp and even body hair. Hair may grow back on its own, although treatment may also be needed.
This is a hair-pulling disorder; which is caused due to extreme stress, anxiety, depression, boredom or frustration. A person with this condition pulls out hair from the scalp, eyebrows and lashes which leads to thinning hair on the scalp.
- Telogen effluvium:
This is a more common and less severe type of hair loss, the hair stops growing and lies dormant, only to fall out 2 or 3 months later. Then it grows back within 6 to 9 months.
How To Control Hair Fall Due To Stress?
1. Topical Treatments
Minoxidil or rogaine, an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that is available in the form of sprays, creams or foams, is usually prescribed for individuals suffering from hair loss. It functions by prolonging the growth phase of your hair.
Castor oil is also an ingredient that is popularly used as a remedy for hair loss. Even though the exact function of castor oil in hair loss does not hold any scientific evidence it is widely used among many men and women.
2. Stress Management
A. Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can help manage stress levels and reduce hair loss.
B. Exercise-Exercise releases good chemicals in the body that help in managing stress. A healthy body and a calm mind can reverse hair loss caused by stress.
C. Positive Thinking- Having a positive outlook towards life can help deal with stress effectively. Surround yourself with positive people and positive thoughts at all times.
The battle against hair loss isn’t won overnight, so don’t be disappointed when you don’t see results right away. Give it some time; every day, every lifestyle change, and every ounce of self-esteem gets you closer to achieving your hair regrowth goals.
When you are stressed, you tend to skip balanced meals, thereby depriving your hair of the essential nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to hair loss. Getting back to balanced diets containing vitamin A, E, B, K, zinc, iron and protein can help regrow hair lost due to stress.
If your hair is thinning, or if you’re experiencing abnormal baldness in your teens or 20s, it’s a good idea to see your doctor determine the cause. Schedule an appointment with a Doctor on TABIIB to know more.