Can Stress Cause Hair Loss? Can You Prevent It?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Specialty: Dermatologist ,Hair, Skin, and Nail Disorders

Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee member of CDSI (Cosmetic dermatologist Society of India). She is highly skilled in non-surgical facial skin rejuvenation... more

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Scientific evidence shows that stress hormones impact hair follicle development, affecting your hair cycle (1). Therefore, if left unaddressed, stress-induced hair loss can result in disorders like opecia-areata-causes-types-and-treatment' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >alopecia, telogen effluvium, and baldness.

But heres the good news controlling your stress levels can restore your hair health. Simply put, stress-related hair loss is fully reversible or temporary (2). Want to know how? Read on to understand how to prevent stress from getting to your head(literally).

  • How Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?
  • Types Of Hair Loss Linked To Stress
  • Is Stress- Related Hair Loss Permanent?
  • How To Control Stress-Related Hair Loss
  • What Treatments Are Available For Stress-Related Hair Loss?

How Can Stress Cause Hair Loss?

Hair follicle development is a cyclic activity. It is broadly divided into phases that show

growth and hair formation (anagen), senescence/shrinkage (catagen), and dormant/ resting (telogen).

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Several growth factors govern the transition of hair follicles between these phases. The latest research suggests that molecules produced during stress response (stressors) also affect the hair follicle development. These molecules either directly interfere or interact with the governing growth factors and impede the smooth transition (1).

When your body is under stress, there are chances that the stressors push hair follicles into the telogen or catagen phase. They may also alter the gene expression in the hair stem cells. As a result, the hair shafts show poor anchorage, low protein (keratin) levels, or stunted growth in the hair fibers. Such situations ultimately cause excessive hair fall, thinning, balding, loss of pigmentation, and scalp disorders (1).

Although researchers are exploring the relationship between stress and hair growth, a few studies link a few prevalent hair fall disorders to stress levels.

Types Of Hair Loss Linked To Stress

Hair thinning is one of the symptoms of TE. You will experience significant hair fall from all parts of the scalp. However, large bald spots are rare (1).

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Other than stress, physiological, genetic, environmental, and other factors can affect hair growth. The question is – will the hair grow back in the bald patches? Is stress-induced hair loss permanent? Keep reading to find out.

Is Stress-Related Hair Loss Permanent?

No, it is generally not. In disorders like telogen effluvium, hair loss can last for two or more months, and the hair may regrow in 3-6 months (5). Alopecia also shows signs of regrowth in bald patches within 6-12 months. However, there is no treatment for this condition, and new bald patches may develop (6). When the factors inducing stress are eliminated, trichotillomania cases show improvement. Habit Reversal Training and other behavioral therapy can help in this regard (7).

In some types of hair loss, the hair follicle is scarred or damaged, minimizing the chances of hair regrowth. Heredity and not addressing hormonal disturbances can further lower the chances of regrowth. However, research indicates that hair regrowth is possible when stressors are removed or managed in most stress- related hair loss (3).

How do you deal with hair loss? Find out next.

How To Control Stress-Related Hair Loss

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Stress-related hair loss is not a life-threatening condition. But you are left with very few treatment options when you realize the damage because it is asymptomatic.

Conclusion

There is no tried and tested, one-size-fits-all treatment option for hair loss. It primarily depends on the underlying factors, apart from stress. For acute hair loss conditions like telogen effluvium and some alopecia cases, drugs and stress management are viable options. In cases of genetic hair disorders or trichotillomania, hair regrowth is minimal.

It is best to keep a watch on the hair fall levels. Consult a dermatologist if you see a sudden spike in hair fall. Above all, be patient with your hair. It may take time to see the difference, but you certainly will. Stop stressing about the hair fall and get professional help as soon as possible.

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