Is this possible?
Hair loss is clinically known as alopecia. Both men and women may experience hair loss throughout their lives. If your hair is falling out, it may be due to stress.
Read on to learn how stress can affect your hair health, whether its effects are permanent, and what you can do to encourage regrowth.
Types of hair loss related to stress
Not all hair loss is caused by stress. There are three types of hair loss associated with high stress.
Telogen secretion (TE) occurs when there is a change in the number of hair follicles in which hair grows. If this change occurs during the telogen or resting phase of hair growth, it can lead to shedding.
This thinning does not occur in all areas of the head. It is usually found in the scalp, especially in the central part of the scalp. People affected by TE usually do not lose all of their scalp hair.
In more extreme cases, hair loss can occur on other parts of the body. This includes the eyebrow or genital area.
TE may be the second most common type of hair loss seen by dermatologists. It can happen to men and women of any age.
Hair loss caused by TE is completely reversible. TE does not permanently damage the hair follicle. The cause of your TE will affect whether your hair grows back in a few months or longer.
Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. It may be due to stress, which can lead to hair loss.
The hair can be on the scalp or in round spots all over the scalp. In a more severe form of AA called alopecia universalis, hair falls out all over the body.
Hair may grow back and fall out again after some time. AA affects men and women of any age and affects more than six million people in the United States.
There are prescription medications that can help people with more than 50 percent hair loss, but there is no specific cure for AA.
Trichotillomania is also called hair pulling disorder. It includes the urge to pull hair from the scalp or other parts of the body. It is considered an impulse control disorder.
You may find that hair pulling is done without much thought, such as when you are bored or distracted. Hair pulling can be more intentional and can be used as a tool to release stress and other negative emotions.
Hair pulling from the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes is common. This can cause additional stress and perpetuate the disorder cycle.
Trichotillomania usually develops in adolescence and lasts a lifetime. It is not known what causes trichotillomania, but research suggests it may be genetic.
Is stress-related hair loss permanent?
If your hair loss is caused by stress, your hair may grow back over time. The rate of regrowth will vary from person to person.
Human hair growth occurs in four stages.
The average human scalp has about 100,000 hair follicles. At any given time, each of your hair follicles is in a different phase of this cycle.
Anagen phase. This is the phase of hair growth. It lasts from two to seven years
Catagen phase. This is a short, two-week phase that occurs when hair follicles begin to shrink.
Telogen phase. This is a three-month vacation phase.
Exogenous phase. This stage occurs when the follicle sheds the hair and new growth begins.
If your hair loss is caused by stress, managing your stress may be the key to restoring a healthy rate of hair growth.
what can you do
There are several things you can do to reduce hair loss and promote new growth.
Diet and nutrition
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet of whole foods is essential for the health of your body and hair.
While it’s important to include all the vitamins you need in a healthy diet, there are some that are important for hair growth.
Vitamin C. This vitamin is essential for the formation of collagen, the skin’s connective tissue found in hair follicles. Foods that contain vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, and strawberries.
Vitamin B. This multi-vitamin complex not only promotes healthy metabolism, but also promotes healthy skin and hair. B vitamins can be found in foods such as dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, and avocados.
Vitamin E. This vitamin contains powerful antioxidants that help keep the scalp healthy. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, spinach, olive oil, cauliflower, and shrimp.
If you’re not getting enough of these nutrients in your diet, talk to your doctor about supplements. They can discuss your options and recommend the best dosage for you. You should not add supplements to your diet without consulting a doctor.
Adequate fluid retention is important for overall health. Every cell in your body depends on water to function properly.
Men should aim for 15 1/2 cups and women 11 1/2 cups of water per day. This amount can come from food, water and other drinks. A possible goal is to drink 8 glasses of water a day, allowing the rest to come from diet and other beverages.
Learning how to manage your stress effectively can help reduce your risk of further hair loss. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
You may need to try several stress management methods before you find what works for you.
Common ways to reduce stress:
Exercise. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress. Try taking a light walk every day, signing up for a dance class, or doing some yard work.
Hobby. Devoting yourself to something you love to do is a great way to combat stress. Consider volunteering, joining your local theater group, planting a garden, or starting an art project.
Write. Try to spend a few minutes each day writing about your feelings and stressors. Reviewing the everyday things that trigger your stress can help you find ways to deal with it.
Breathing and meditation. Meditation and breathing exercises are great ways to focus on the moment. You may want to try methods like yoga or tai chi that combine meditation with exercise.
There are many creams, lotions, and other products that can help with your hair loss.
Topical Minoxidil (Rogaine). Topical minoxidil is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. It is available in cream, spray and foam form. You can apply it to your scalp, eyebrows and beard at least twice a day. It is not suitable for other parts of the body. There are specially designed versions for men and women. It is not clear how minoxidil works, but it is believed to prolong the growth period. It may not work for everyone and results can take up to four months to show.
Topical corticosteroids. Topical OTC and prescription corticosteroids such as prednisone are sometimes used to treat alopecia areata. They are often used in conjunction with other treatment options.
Castor oil. This is a popular folk remedy for hair restoration. Although there is some evidence that topical application increases hair growth, there is limited research to support this.