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Hair Loss Caused by Stress

Many of our patients have experienced an increase in daily stressors, or an unexpected stressful event, and notice a shift in hair growth. This leads them to grow suspicious: Can I lose hair from stress? Stress levels can be a direct cause of hair loss and hair shedding and the faster the cause is addressed, the better the outcome.

Though hair loss does not always accompany times of stress in our lives, it is a common occurrence for many patients, and both chronic stress and emotional stress are linked to hair loss in many cases. Particularly during times of crisis, such as the pandemic, hair loss can add insult to injury, as patients desperately search for a solution to sudden hair loss.

Thankfully for many patients, stress-induced hair loss is often temporary, and hair health can often be improved through the use of modern advancements in the world of dermatology, such as the use of Platelet-Rich Plasma injections for hair restoration. If you’re struggling with increased hair shedding due to high stress levels, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michele Green is here to help. Dr. Green is an expert in hair loss and has been treating different causes of hair loss in her NYC office for over 25 years and can offer you the best treatment options.

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2 months, 3 sessions of PRP hair treatment

Will stress cause hair loss?

If you’re wondering do you lose hair from stress, it’s important to think about hair thinning through the context of the natural hair growth cycle. The four essential hair growth phases are known as the anagen, catagen, telogen, and exogen phases. The anagen phase is also known as the growth phase, and it allows the hairs to develop over the course of two to 6 years, depending on the hair follicle. The next phase, the catagen phase, is a brief transitional phase that typically lasts a total of ten days. The telogen phase is a resting phase that lasts a few months, during which time the strands remain in the hair follicle but are no longer actively growing. Lastly, the exogen phase occurs when the strand is finally released from the follicle and falls out, restarting the hair growth cycle once more.

Typically, when stress leads to hair thinning, this means that the hair growth cycle has been disrupted due to changes in the body, resulting in an increase of hair follicles entering a dormant stage, which can lead to a large amount of hair shedding all at once. This shift can be caused by stressors on the body, hormonal changes such as postpartum shifts or menopause, as well as emotional stress.

Can hair loss be caused by stress?

Though stress will not necessarily hair loss, the answer to does stress cause hair loss is, unfortunately, yes. Stress-induced hair loss commonly occurs in patients who experience a stressful event, such as an injury, a difficult recovery from illness, or chronic stress that affects overall well-being. Recently, there has been overwhelming indication that stress related to the coronavirus pandemic may also be causing increased hair shedding among a wide variety of patients. However, many of those who observe a decrease in the number of hair follicles that are active due to a period of stress experience temporary hair loss that can be revitalized through hair restoration treatments such as PRP for hair loss.

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Stress-Related Hair Loss

Stress-related hair loss is typically associated with three major hair loss classifications:

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease during which the immune system starts to attack the hair follicles, leading to increased hair loss. Alopecia areata is often triggered by stress, and leads to unpredictable hair loss in cirucular, non-scarring patches along the scalp. Alopecia areata affects patients from adolescence well into adulthood, and typically is indicated through two very small patches of hair loss, typically about the size of a quarter. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition and stress, and sometimes progresses to complete hair loss on the head. The hair may go through phases of regrowth and hair loss over an extended period of time. In rare cases, alopecia areata can lead to hair loss all over the body, known as alopecia universals. When it comes to treating alopecia areata, Dr. Green tailors a treatment plan that combines topical therapies (such as romaine), PRP for hair restoration, and intralesional cortisone treatments.

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Alopecia treatment for male patient, 6 months

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium is the most common form of stress-related hair loss.  Telogen Effluvium is defined as a shift of a number of hairs into the telogen phase, which will then lead to a loss in the number of healthy hair growth. During this experience, patients will experience hair loss that is abrupt, diffuse, and temporary. After a stressful event or chronic stress (due to a prolonged event such as a global pandemic), hair shedding typically won’t present until a few months after the onset. However, after around three months, the telogen phase will release the hairs from the hair follicle, and that’s when patients tend to observe the hair loss.

Diffuse hair loss caused by telogen effluvium is often observed by patients as “en-mass” hair shedding, which will lead to an overall sense of hair thinning or hair loss, rather than a widening part or gradual thinning caused by other forms of hair loss or baldness. Oftentimes, patients will notice a substantially thinner ponytail, or an increase in the amount of hair in the brush, as an indicator of telogen effluvium. The average person with healthy hair follicles will shed between 100-200 hairs per day, but the increase in hair shedding (sometimes leading to more than 50% of hairs shed on the head) is typically a noticeable increase.

Thankfully, telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that does not lead to baldness. Though the initial hair loss can last for several months, many patients find that their hair volume and hair health is about what it was before the hair shedding began after an extended regrowth phase. Nevertheless, this natural regrowth can be arduous, as hair typically grows about a half inch in length per month.

Telogen Effluvium is often caused by stress, but can be caused by other factors, such as medication, illness, or postpartum hormonal shifts after a woman gives birth. Additionally, telogen effluvium can expose other subtle hair loss issues, such as female pattern baldness, and can in rare cases lead to further hair thinning or chronic hair loss. For this reason, it’s best to treat hair loss due to telogen effluvium when symptoms are visible, in order to restore the health of the hair follicles as they re-stimulate hair growth within the natural hair cycle.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a behavioral disorder during which a patient will pull out hairs. This hair-pulling disorder can lead to the affected person breaking off, pulling out, or twisting out hairs from the head, eyelashes, or eyebrows, as well as the chin, chest, leg or underarm regions of the body. It’s classified as a mental disorder along the spectrum of obsessive compulsive disorder that affects the patient’s daily life and leads to an obvious amount of hair loss. Trichotillomania is thought to be caused by a variety of biological, behavioral, and psychological factors, and there is an increased risk of trichotillomania found in patients who have a relative suffering form the condition. It is often linked to other psychiatric conditions, including but not limited to depressive disorders, excoriation, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Though the majority of people who engage in hair pulling activity as young children tend to stop the habit naturally (akin to sucking one’s thumb), trichotillomania often develops in adolescents and can continue on until adulthood, affecting around 1-2% of the population. As the visible symptoms of trichotillomania often resemble that of alopecia areata or telogen effluvium, it’s important that a patient be examined by a psychologist and a veteran dermatologist. Dr. Green can help to work with patients recovering from trichotillomania in order to restore healthy hair growth on the scalp.

Other causes of baldness or hair loss

There are a variety of types of hair loss, stemming from hereditary causes, chronic stress, medical conditions (like thyroid insufficiency), and stressful events alike. The most common cause of hair thinning is that of male and female pattern baldness, commonly referred to as androgenetic alopecia. This form of hair loss leads to thinning hair and receding hairlines, due to a lack of new hair growth during the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle. Androgenetic alopecia occurs among more than 30 million women and 50 million men in the U.S. alone, but can often be successfully treated through topical treatments, oral medications, or, most impressively, through the use of Platelet-Rich Plasma treatments for hair loss. Learn more about treatment for androgenetic alopecia here. 

Pandemic stress: Does stress make your hair fall out?

Unfortunately for the majority of us, the current changes to our daily life and environment due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, have led to a startling increase in stress. According to the American Psychological Association, around 1 in 5 adults indicate that their mental health has worsened over the course of the past year. From reduced socialization to increased risk to online schooling, current circumstances seem to have only increased the amount of stress each one of us faces. For this reason, an unfortunate trend has developed: hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium seems to be the most common form of hair loss incited by the pandemic. Many patients have observed hair shedding around three months after having experienced symptoms due to COVID-19, while others have suffered from hair thinning and hair loss simply due to added stressors, burnout, and difficulty maintaining their health and wellness due to the unique logistical circumstances that accompany the behavioral shifts recommended by community health experts. Fortunately, Dr. Green is an expert in hair loss restoration, and has been able to safely and effectively treat patients suffering with unexpected hair loss.

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Will hair loss from stress grow back?

Depending on the hair loss that you are suffering from, your hair often can and will grow back to its former level of healthy locks. Often times, patients will even be able to restore their hair through simple measures such as stress management and improved diet. Though not every patient is able to prevent further hair loss due to stress, many patients are able to nourish hair follicles and encourage hair regrowth through targeted treatments.

How to treat hair loss from stress

Dr. Green uses her expert knowledge to cull from a variety of treatment options that are proven to stimulate hair growth. These treatment options include topical over-the-counter treatments such as Rogaine (minoxidil), oral finasteride, certain hormonal medications (such as birth control), and Platelet-Rich Plasma injections.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment for hair restoration is an innovative, in-office treatment that relies on your body’s own growth factors and nutrients in order to stimulate healthy hair follicles and, thus, new hair growth. PRP is derived from a sample of the patient’s own blood which is placed safely in a centrifuge to highly concentrate white blood cells and platelets that are rich in growth factors such as Platelet-Derived Growth Factor, Transforming Growth-Factor-Beta, and Epidermal Growth Factor, among others. These nourishing growth factors are able to boost blood vessel, cell, and skin formation and growth, which in turn nourishes and supports the hair follicle. Typically, a treatment session for PRP hair restoration takes around a half hour, and patients can resume normal activity after the procedure.

When you work with Dr. Green, she’ll be able to accurately assess your current hair loss needs, discuss your medical history, and determine a treatment plan that is best for you. Typically, patients rely on a variety of treatment options that, when combined, create healthy new hair growth.

Which Vitamins help hair loss? Are there medications that cause hair loss?

Occasionally, patents worry that certain medications they take may cause hair loss. There are a variety of medications which can cause hair thinning or hair loss, and lead to unwanted hair loss. These medications include acne medications, antacids, antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, blood pressure medications, cholesterol-lowering medications, and weight loss medications, among others. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing an unwanted side effect of hair loss due to your current medications, Dr. Green can work with you to determine your best course of action.

There have been studies which show that certain vitamins such as Biotin, can improve hair loss. These vitamins can be purchased over-the-counter of through various web sites. Many patients have had improvement from taking Nutrafol or Viviscal, which are specific hair vitamins. Since some hair loss can be linked to anemia and poor nutrition, taking vitamins daily could alleviate and improve some of your hair loss issues.

How to stop hair loss due to stress

Though there is no one-stop solution to hair loss or thinning hair, there are strategies that can make a world of difference when it comes to reducing stress-related hair loss. Dr. Green always recommends that her patients examine their lifestyle to reduce stressors and develop stress management solutions that will allow you to create a wellness routine that works for your lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep each night, and avoiding damaging hair styling tools are all an important part of restoring healthy hair and maintaining new hair growth. However, it’s good to note that simple hair restoration treatment options, such as PRP hair restoration, are always helpful in returning your hair to its natural, beautiful volume.

If you’re frustrated by stress-related hair loss, there are treatment options available that can help. With over two decades of experience in hair loss, hair health, and and treating hair thinning, Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renown expert with these problems. Whether your hair loss is an acute event, or a chronic problem, Dr. Green has solutions to your hair loss issues. Contact our office today at 212-535-3088 or contact us online, to develop your custom treatment plan with Dr. Green.

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