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Stress and Hair Loss: Are They Connected?

Jun 14, 2008
Not too many people are aware of the fact that our hair is still very much a part of our human body. When our body undergoes chemical changes, our hair is affected, too. This has led a lot of people to think that there might be a connection between hair health and stress. Could it be possible that there is a link between stress and hair loss?

Hair Loss

The two main factors affecting hair loss are genetic and hormonal changes. This implies that stress has less of a role in majority of hair loss cases. Stress however can make hair loss worse among people who are already genetically predisposed to it. In people who do not have hair loss due to genes and hormones, stress may be the major causal factor.

Stress and Hair Loss

Experts are unanimous in agreeing that stress and hair loss is related. There are of course different types of stressful experiences. A person could be either physically or emotionally stressed. Hair loss can happen when either of the two types of stress appears. In most cases though, it is a combination of physical and emotional factors that work together to bring about hair loss. Examples of conditions and situations where the connection between stress and hair loss is apparent include the following:

- Pregnancy and childbirth - Surgery - Severe illness - Accident or trauma - Difficult personal life conditions or environment - Mentally, physically or emotionally draining work - Worrying too much over financial status or situation

Telogen Effluvium

Hair loss may also be caused by the condition known as telogen effluvium. Under normal circumstances, we all have 80%-90% of our hair strands in the growing phase and the remaining portion in the resting phase. Eventually the resting hair strands will fall off. In people with both stress and hair loss there is an increase in the normal percentage of hair strands in the resting phase. This results in a noticeable increase in hair shedding. All of a sudden you may feel that there may be more strands of hair on your brush or pillow than normal.

There is also a theory that stress may have an impact on the immune system that may have a repercussion on hair health. The link between stress and hair loss may become more evident when the immune system is weakened by stress. Some experts theorize that because of the stressful conditions, the immune system may suddenly turn against the body, attacking cells and tissues including the hair follicles. This results in increased hair shedding.

Solutions

The solution is obvious when you are suffering both from stress and hair loss. Your first step would be to attempt to reduce stress or move away from a stressful situation. If you are severely ill for example, take time away from daily concerns to properly recuperate. If work is causing you a lot of stress, move away from it temporarily by having a vacation.

Learn to cope with the situation if you are unable to completely eliminate it. Reduce stress and hair loss by learning stress reduction techniques like meditation and progressive relaxation.
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