We all know the caricature of a person pulling out his or her hair as they face a really stressful situation. In cartoons this is very funny. In real life we live in stressful situations both short-term and long-term and when we experience hair loss, we can’t help but wonder; is it the stress that has caused my hair loss?
Is your hair thinning, or is falling out more so than normally experienced? Hair loss can occur because of a variety of reasons including heredity, poor diet, illness, medications and also stress. Stress can alone or combined with other factors cause hair loss.
Everyone experiences hair loss, because there is a normal progression of hair growth and hair rest that ends in the rested hair falling out after a couple of months. The average “life” of a strand of hair is 4.5 years. After the hair rests for a few months after going through hair growth, it falls out. You see this hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush or comb, and also in the shower drain. The hair care routines that we put our hair through also can contribute to “normal hair loss”, such as shampooing, brushing, perming, and blow-drying. Men and women can also experience normal hair loss after the age of 30 although men do tend to experience age-related hair loss quicker than women.
As opposed to normal hair loss as we age, hair loss that occurs because of stress can occur at any age. Stress can be physical stress, emotional or mental stress that we experience as we go through our daily lives. Stress can come as a result of an injury, illness or from major surgery. Stress can cause two types of hair loss: telogen effluvium and alopecia areata.
Telogen effluvium is less severe as hair loss goes. The hair will stop growing and remain dormant, then fall out 2 to 3 months later. The hair that has fallen may be replaced by new hair growth in 6 to 9 months depending on the stress condition of your scalp and the cause for the hair loss. Because telogen effluvium is a less severe hair loss situation, the replacement hair growth is much more likely to occur.
The other stress related hair loss cause is alopecia areata. This is when white blood cells attack the hair follicles. Hair loss occurs within weeks of this happening and usually the individual experiences patches of hair loss. You can also experience entire scalp hair loss as a result of alopecia areata. You can also experience alopecia areata on body hair. Treatment is usually required before replacement hair will grow back in the areas of scalp or body hair loss.
Stress can also be combined with other hair loss factors such as pregnancy, birth control pill usage, chemotherapy treatments or stress from a physical trauma like that experienced in an accident or violent crime.
Your doctor can help you determine if you are experiencing hair loss due to stress by conducting a physical examination and by taking a current medical history from you. Stress can occur whenever you experience major life changes such as a job or home move, marriage or divorce, the birth or death of a child.
If a child, teen or young adult suffers hair loss that is noticeably not normal, it is very important that a doctor be consulted because hair loss can be a symptom of an illness that may need immediate medical attention. Hair loss an also occur as the body is stressed out over a deficiency in diet. Taking that first step and talking to a medical doctor can address all of these reasons for unexplained early hair loss.