Stress can lead to multiple negative effects on the body ranging from depression, illness and, believe it or not, hair loss. By reducing your stress levels, you can help keep your body, including your scalp, healthy.
Stress and Alopecia
Can stress cause alopecia? Yes, stress can lead to alopecia. Alopecia is triggered by different things, one of which is stress. Stress is in fact the most common trigger of autoimmune disorders, such as alopecia areata. This condition involves the white blood cells targeting and attacking the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. The hair loss happens at a rapid rate, leaving you with a patch or more on your scalp. If it is not treated, the hair loss can continue and potentially leave you with minimal hair.
Male and female pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia are also affected by stress in a similar way. Stress only serves to progress the hair loss. There are other conditions which lead to hair loss that can be triggered by stress, such as telogen effluvium.
How Stress Affects the Hair Growth Cycle
When you are stressed, your body prepares for potential threats that it anticipates by producing more hormones. This causes a change in the hormone levels of your body and this change can negatively impact growth pattern of the hair follicles on your scalp. The way this affects you hair growth is as follows:
- Due to the changed hormone level, multiple hairs on your scalp pause at the resting stage of the hair growth cycle. Normally only 10 to 15 percent on the hair on the scalp is in the resting stage, however, if you are stressed this percentage increases and more hairs move into the resting stage.
- The resting stage is the point in the hair growth cycle where the hair follicle is dormant. This stage should only last 1 to 4 months. If you are stressed however, the affected hairs remain in the resting stage for indeterminable period of time.
- These affected hairs are prone to thinning and sudden fall out within a few months. The time between the stressful period or even which causes hair to fall out is estimated to 3 months. It is important to remember that the hairs follicles are not dead and that hair regrowth is possible.
How Stress Affects DHT Levels
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is scientifically proven to be the number one contributor to hair loss. Stress increases the amount of DHT produced in the following way:
- When you are stressed, your body’s production of adrenaline increases.
- Adrenaline can be converted into cholesterol. The levels of cholesterol are thus increased when you are stressed.
- This increased level of cholesterol raises the amount of testosterone produced.
- Testosterone is then converted into DHT by an enzyme called 5a-reductase.
Therefore, when you stress, your body produces and increased amount of DHT, thus negatively impacting the hair growth cycle, leading to hair thinning and hair loss. By reducing your stress levels, you can decrease the amount of DHT produced, thus reducing the amount of hair loss.
How Stress Affects Hair Health
Stress negatively affects the body’s immune system. The immune system is weakened opening the body up to more illnesses. The health of your hair is closely linked to the general health of your body. Flu and high fevers can trigger hair loss about two months later. Therefore, increased stress can make the body susceptible to conditions such as fever that can lead to hair loss. In this case you body’s health and your hair’s health are victims to your increased stress levels. This fact highlights the importance of reducing your stress levels.
In some cases stress can worsen you hair health by triggering dandruff in people who are prone to dandruff. Dandruff makes the scalp itchy and thus increasing the potential for hair loss.
If you think your stress levels may be negatively affecting your body’s health and your hair health, the best thing you can do at this point is to determine where the stress is coming from. Reflect on your lifestyle as this plays a large role in health. Causes of stress can be a difficult thing to realize, however asking your self the following questions may be helpful:
- Are my days busier than usual?
- Do I feel tired on most days?
- Is my work load more than usual?
- Do I have any problems in any of my relationships?
It’s important to interrogate your lifestyle because if the necessary changes are not made, your high level of stress can last a long time, causing you hair loss to become more severe. When you decide to make changes the following list may be a great place to start:
- Sleep for 7-8 hours a day
- Consume less sugar and caffeine
- Talk to someone about the problem you may be having whether in you personal life or in your career)
- Drink more water
- Invest in a healthier diet
- Exercise regularly
- If you have recently been ill, sustained an injury, or experienced something traumatic, take time off to allow your mind and body to recover.
Taking action to reduce your stress levels may be easier said than done, especially if you have a routine or certain habits that may be difficult to shake. However, it is important for you to prioritize your health. Hair loss that is caused by stress can be reversible and last for a short period of time if you do what is necessary to reduce your stress.
How Stress Affects Your Diet and Hair Health
When people are stressed, they tend to neglect themselves and their body’s needs. People either eat less than they should or more than they should. Your body’s nutrition has a big effect the hair that grows from your scalp. A poor diet negatively affects hair health, especially for women, and can lead to hair loss. If you do not eat properly your body can suffer from iron deficiency, lack of protein and vitamin imbalance. Without certain minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A, E, B vitamins, zinc and iron, your hair will not have the necessary nutrients to grow. Stress doesn’t only affect your eating habits negatively, but also affects your digestion. Even if you did have a good diet during times of stress, the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients is hampered due to stress. This thus reduces the effectiveness that a good diet has on hair health.
Hair Growth After Stress Reduction
Here’s the good news; hair loss resulting from stress can be temporary. If you reduce your stress levels, and make changes that bring these levels back to normal, your hair will start to grow back. By reducing stress and improving your general well-being, you produce a great environment for your hair to flourish. You must just be patient and consistent, changing to a less stressful lifestyle for a while, then returning to one which elevates your stress levels will do little for lasting positive results.
Stress can cause alopecia by acting as a trigger, thus resulting in hair loss. Other conditions can lead to hair loss as well. If you feel your hair loss may be the result of something else, it is recommended that you go see your doctor.
We Are Here to Help
In some case a change in lifestyle is not enough to stop hair loss and regrow hair. Luckily, there are products available to treat hair loss and promote hair growth. Please have a look at the articles on this site for more information.
Please feel free to comment below and let us know what effective actions you take to reduce stress. If you have any other comments or questions, please leave them below as well.