Stress is causing hair loss – what can I do?
The claim that all of our diseases is due to nerves, is not unfounded. The chemical processes occurring in our body against the background of nervous tension, are so complex that they can lead to the most unpredictable consequences. One example is hair loss from stress. People sometimes begin to lose their hair months after the shock, and it can last a long time if left untreated.
The mechanism of hair loss due to stress
Hair is a litmus paper by which we can determine our emotional state. Let’s get to the bottom of this relationship. Let’s look at two possible scenarios:
1. A brief but very intense exposure to a stressor. This can be an unexpected dismissal, the loss of a loved one, a car accident or an attack in the staircase – in short, any event that falls like a snowball on your head and severely disrupts your mood. What can happen to your hair in a situation like this?
We have all repeatedly seen cats or dogs put their hair up in a curl when they feel danger approaching. This is a way for animals to protect themselves, making them appear larger and scarier. Strangely enough, we still have this atavism. However, it is not so pronounced. The hair shaft is lifted due to contraction of the muscle that is attached to the skin and hair follicle. When stressed, the muscle contracted sharply and then contracted just as sharply, causing the hair pouch to squeeze. As a result, the hair root can be severely damaged. Sometimes there can be sudden hair loss when you’re stressed. But even if the hair shaft doesn’t fall out right away, the follicle can’t grow back to its full potential because it’s being squeezed. As a result, the follicle continues to function half-heartedly, producing thin and unsightly hair shafts.
2. Systematic action of stress factors. Constant stress at work, traffic jams, strained relationships in the family… We all have plenty to worry about. But if nervous tension accumulates, there are changes at the physiological level. Your digestion gets worse. The body doesn’t get enough nutrients – and even if your menu is completely balanced, it just isn’t able to fully use all the calories, minerals and vitamins. Circulation is also impaired. Consequently, the organs – including the scalp – are not sufficiently supplied with oxygen and nutrients. The hair becomes thin and weak. Hair loss after stress can occur even against the background of minor stress. Finally, against the background of nervous turmoil begin to malfunction in the endocrine system. Oestrogen production – female sex hormones that activate hair follicles – decreases. An imbalance of estrogens and androgens arises, and the process of hair loss progresses.
The saddest development is trichotillomania. A person suffering from trichotillomania literally tears the hair on his head, eyebrows, etc. If the situation has reached this pathological stage, without qualified psychological or neurological help it is impossible to cope with it.
It’s also worth mentioning how stress affects hair loss in women. A few years ago, scientists in Britain conducted a study and found that one in two women who reported hair loss was suffering from chronic sleep deprivation. Another study in this area showed that hair loss was a problem more often experienced by working women. And the severity of the problem was in direct correlation with the level of responsibility of the position of the researched. Women are by nature more emotional, so they react to stress more strongly. At the same time hair beauty is one of the most important factors of attractiveness and femininity. That is why the beautiful sex perceives the loss of their locks particularly painfully and thus finds itself in a vicious circle: hair fall out because of stress, their loss causes more stress and the problem only gets worse.
How to treat hair loss after stress
If a person has been subjected to even a strong, but one-time stress factor, it will be easier to restore the lost hair – because the body has not received fatal damage. A healthy lifestyle, properly chosen cosmetics, home care and patience will help. A month or two – and the hair will recover. Another thing, if the stress has become chronic.
The treatment of hair loss because of stress that has a long lasting effect is a complicated process because we first need to normalize the work of the internal organs and body systems. But to fight with the symptoms without removing the cause is a thankless task.
The symptoms of hair loss caused by stress are usually not obvious and this makes it difficult to diagnose, especially if a person is actively self-medicating. After all, sudden hair loss is quite rare. Usually the problems with the locks start a few weeks or months after the beginning of the pathological processes in the body and develop gradually.
Anyway, if your hair falls out like September leaves, don’t hesitate to visit a trichologist. Treatment of hair loss after stress is preceded by various tests, among which are mandatory:
– General blood test. It reveals the level of hemoglobin, white blood cells and other vital elements that directly affect the condition of the hair.
– Biochemical blood test. It allows you to determine the level of magnesium, calcium, iron and other important elements in the body.
– Computer microvideodiagnostics. Today, it is this diagnostic method that allows the most accurate identification of signs of hair loss from stress. With prolonged nervous tension, the hair shaft shrinks, on the basis of which it is possible to draw a conclusion about the cause of the pathology.
If necessary, the trichologist will refer you to other specialists – endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, and maybe a psychotherapist.
Unfortunately, some drugs that are supposed to normalize the work of other organs, can provoke the loss of curls due to their toxicity. You also need to be prepared for this. After all, the main thing is to restore health.
The main question that worries patients who have experienced hair loss after stress – when will their locks recover? Get ready for a long and systematic work. After all, your body has been exposed to the destructive effects of stress for more than one day. So it’s going to take quite a long time for your hair to recover, too.
How to stop hair loss after stress
There is no magic pill that allows you to immediately get rid of the effects of stress. However, for all patients facing hair loss due to stress, experts advise the following:
– Eliminate stressors if possible. Of course, it is not always possible to throw in your boss’s face a letter of resignation or flee from family problems to Bali. But it is possible to take minimal measures to reduce nervous tension. Take time off from work or take time out from your relationship. Enroll in a yoga school or swimming pool. Try aromatherapy. Maybe it makes sense to see a psychologist. Find a personalized way to heal yourself.
– Lead a healthy lifestyle. Stress hair loss is often exacerbated by bad habits like “eating,” “smoking,” or “drinking” the problem. Of course, it is much quicker and easier to eat a big cake or drink a couple of glasses of wine in the evening than to go for a run in the park or at least organize yourself a relaxing warm bath with salt. But in doing so we only methodically harm ourselves.
– Get enough sleep. Nervous stress often goes hand in hand with insomnia. Don’t drink coffee and tea at night. Don’t watch TV. Sleep only in a well ventilated room and in complete darkness. Reconsider your work schedule. The quality of sleep also directly affects the quality of our lives. If you are unable to cure your insomnia on your own, it may make sense to consult a doctor who can prescribe sedatives that will help you adjust your sleep regime.
– Take vitamins. Have your doctor prescribe a balanced multivitamin complex that includes vitamins A, group B, E, C, D, as well as iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, magnesium and other trace elements. Some cosmetic brands produce specialized mineral and vitamin complexes to strengthen hair.
– To quickly overcome the effects of severe hair loss after stress, carefully monitor your diet. Any starvation diets and veganism – forbidden. You need to support your body. Moreover, we subconsciously perceive the need for any restrictions as a stress.
– While the hair is recovering, exclude any traumatic aesthetic procedures – coloring, permanent styling, etc. Styling and drying with a hair dryer to a minimum. Do not use metal combs. They irritate the scalp, electrify the hair and tangle it. Prefer plastic or wooden combs.
– Find a massage therapist. It is common for severe stress to cause clips in the cervical spine. This leads to poor circulation in the scalp. A massage will relieve them. In addition, this procedure generally relaxes. By the way, if possible, get a scalp massage as well.
– Do not neglect the folk remedies for the restoration of curls. What should you do if you have stress hair loss? Help home masks that have a local irritant effect and thus stimulate blood circulation in the scalp. Here are a few effective home recipes:
- Onion. Grate an onion, squeeze the juice and rub it onto your scalp. If you have very delicate skin, mix onion juice with natural yogurt 1 to 1.
- Mustard. Dilute mustard powder with warm water to a mushy consistency. Apply to hair and scalp.
- Grapefruit. Mix 1 tablespoon of burdock or castor oil with 1 tsp. honey and the juice of half a grapefruit.
- Masks must be fresh, i.e. apply them immediately after preparation.
- After applying the mask you need to wrap your head with polyethylene, or wear a special shower cap, and warm a terry towel.
- To achieve the effect the mask should be held for at least half an hour. But if your scalp strongly burns, wash it off immediately.
– Choose the right cosmetics. Mass-market products are useless in your case. Virtually every premium brand offers a line of products against hair loss. They contain vitamins, antioxidants, collagen and other active ingredients that provide your hair with complete nutrition.
And remember: rather than thinking about how to repair, stress hair loss is easier to anticipate. Take care of your hair every day, don’t neglect your health and learn to take a philosophical attitude to life – there’s not enough hair for every problem!
Hair Loss from Stress
An experienced trichologist who has been working in her field for over 15 years. During her professional activities, she developed a method of individual approach to each patient.
The statement that all diseases are caused by nerves is not groundless. Against the backdrop of emotional stress, chemical processes occur in the body, which have a negative impact on health. In particular, due to stress, hair loss occurs, which, if untreated, can lead to alopecia. It does not necessarily have to be an acute, traumatic mental situation. Sometimes even prolonged stress from work or children leads to negative reactions.
How does this happen?
- Short, but intense exposure. For example, a layoff, a plane crash, an attack, the loss of a loved one – an event that happened unexpectedly and knocked you out of your rut. In such a case, the level of the hormone cortisol rises rapidly to high levels. Because of this, the muscles that are near the hair bulb sharply contract and cause compression. As a result, the root is damaged and the hair falls out. But even if this doesn’t happen, the damaged follicles function poorly, the hair has a short growth phase, becomes thin and lifeless. That said, in most cases, hair loss from short-term stress is well treated.
- Prolonged exposure, the chronic form. Almost everyone has found themselves in such situations – a busy schedule at work, crisis relations in the family, difficulties in children’s studies. A lot of daily worries press on our psyche every day. As a result, tension accumulates, which leads to changes at the physiological level. The endocrine system malfunctions, there is an imbalance of estrogens and androgens. Digestion worsens, leading to a lack of nutrients, development of deficiencies and starvation of cells. Gradually thinning leads to alopecia of varying severity.
Separately, it should be noted that research in Europe has shown that one in two women experiencing hair loss suffers from chronic sleep deprivation, which is also stressful for the body and requires, if not treatment, then mandatory correction. Another study found that hair loss is more common in working women. And the higher the level of responsibility in the position, the more acute the problem. The reason for this is that women are more emotional and react more strongly to stress. This creates a vicious circle: due to their worries, their hair falls out, and their loss causes even more stress. As a result, the problem gets so much worse that it is impossible to do without the help of a trichologist, and sometimes a psychologist.
A separate form of stress-induced hair loss that requires prompt treatment is trichotillomania. The pathology is a form of obsessive-compulsive neurosis, which is characterized by the uncontrolled pulling out of the hair on the head. The clinical picture is as follows: the person regularly pulls out the hair on the head, arms, eyebrows, and does not give himself/herself any notice of it. For example, when worried or is in anticipation. In such a case, qualified help is badly needed.
What is the most effective treatment for hair loss from stress?
The tactics will depend on how long the stressor acted. If it was a one-time short-term stress, it will be easier to restore the curls, as the body has not received serious damage. In such a case, a healthy lifestyle, moderate exercise, walks outdoors and a sufficient amount of sleep will help. Last but not least, care products also play a role. They should be suitable by type, to be safe in composition and not to weigh the already damaged hair. Gradually the curls will recover.
Treatment of hair loss from long-term stress is a more complex and long-term process. First it is necessary to eliminate the cause, restore health and only then to direct forces to the curls. Otherwise, all actions will be meaningless. The difficulty of this situation is that the symptoms are usually implicit and develop gradually, which makes it difficult to diagnose. A person goes to the doctor at a late stage, when the changes have become obvious.
If you notice that there is profuse hair loss, it is recommended to undergo the following tests:
- General and biochemical blood tests. The level of hemoglobin, magnesium, calcium, iron, white blood cells and other directly affects the condition of the body.
- Blood test for thyroid hormones. It is recommended for all adults annually to monitor the work of the organ.
- Computerized microvideodiagnostics. The gold standard of trichological diagnostics allows to accurately identify the signs of alopecia, the condition of hair, its type and phase.
If this data is not enough, the trichologist can refer additionally to other doctors (endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, infectious disease specialist) to establish a more precise diagnosis. Unfortunately, some medications can become a triggering factor for alopecia, but the issue of health should be a priority.
The main question on everyone’s mind when dealing with stress hair loss and undergoing treatment is, when will the locks recover? It will take about 4 to 6 months of regular and systematic work. There is no way to speed up this process. After the completion of treatment and recovery, regular preventive visits to a trichologist are recommended for timely detection of relapse.
- Reduce anxiety and try to eliminate stressful influences. There are no universal solutions for all situations, but you can take a vacation, establish a daily routine. If you have a lot of work, give up gadgets that take up a lot of time for themselves and lengthen the work day. Add at least 1 trip to the pool a week and try to be outside for at least half an hour or an hour every day. In some cases, it’s worth seeing a psychologist.
- Add anti-stress rituals. Anything that brings pleasure will do – a bath with sea salt, shopping, reading books, playing with your child, embroidery. Let it be not every day, but once a week necessarily.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle. Often stress hair loss is exacerbated by bad habits – eating fast food, drinking alcohol on Fridays or weekends, smoking. Of course, giving up something that brings pleasure is hard, but try to reduce the volume and compensate with something healthy. For example, after eating pizza at bedtime, make a healthy breakfast.
- Get enough sleep. Insomnia is a major companion to nervous tension. Do not drink energizing drinks at night, give up the phone and TV an hour before going to sleep, ventilate the room. You can simplify control by using apps that will record and analyze your resting data. If there are problems with sleep, see a doctor. Sedatives may be needed.
- Monitor vitamin and micronutrient levels. Mineral and vitamin complexes are indicated for deficiencies, and in particularly severe cases – a full treatment.
- Eliminate the recovery period dieting and starvation. The diet should be fully balanced to support the body. In addition the psyche perceives any restrictions as an additional stress, which can aggravate the problem of hair loss and reduce the effect of treatment.
- Do not carry out traumatic aesthetic procedures – coloring, perming, styling with tongs and irons. Do not use a hair dryer, metal combs, which dry and traumatize the hair.
- Sign up for a massage. High muscle tone in the cervical region prevents full blood circulation, causes headaches and insomnia. The procedure will allow you to relax and improve lymph flow.
- Don’t neglect your grooming. A good quality shampoo will not be enough. Be sure to add balms, masks, indelible means. They will strengthen the hair, fill it with moisture, useful for the scalp.
It is important to understand that it is impossible to exclude stresses from your life. The main thing is to learn how to reduce their negative impact on health and be able to quickly mobilize forces to eliminate them. Contact specialists, don’t postpone visits when you notice a problem, take daily care of your hair and learn to treat all problems in life rationally.
At Hair Doctor Medical Center, trichologists who use only modern and safe methods of treating stress hair loss are available for appointments. Restoring beautiful locks not only solves aesthetic problems, but also helps to boost self-esteem and reduce anxiety due to worries about appearance. Get answers to all your questions at your first consultation.
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