Our hair is often viewed as a reflection of our identity because it is both personal and public. However, when stress strikes, our tresses can be one of the first areas to bear the burden, leading to hair loss. This article seeks to dissect the relationship between stress and hair loss, offering guidance on how to manage it.
Hair grows from follicles in the skin at an average rate of 15 centimetres per year. Hair growth and shedding occur in a cycle, which is influenced by age, diet, and overall health. This cycle consists of three stages: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transitional phase), and telogen (resting or shedding phase).
Most of the hair on the scalp is in the anagen phase, while only 5-10% is in the telogen phase. A disruption in this cycle could lead to increased hair fall or noticeable hair loss.
Stress can indeed cause hair loss, but it's essential to understand that stress won't actually make your hair strands fall out immediately. Instead, it can disrupt your hair's natural growth cycle.
When your body experiences significant stress, it can push more hairs into the shedding phase. There are three types of hair loss that can be associated with high-stress levels:
1. Telogen effluvium: This is a condition where more hairs than usual prepare to fall out of your head. It's caused when more hairs than normal are pushed into the 'resting' phase of the hair growth lifecycle.
2. Alopecia areata: The body's immune system attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
3. Trichotillomania: This is a habitual condition caused by stress and anxiety where the person pulls out hairs without realising it.
Prolonged periods of stress can lead to a disruption of the hair growth cycle, pushing more hair into the resting phase and leading to premature shedding. This is because stress causes physiological changes in the body, such as fluctuations in hormone levels, that can lead to temporary hair loss.
Furthermore, stress can lead to physical damage to the hair follicles. When stressed, people often have a subconscious habit of twisting, pulling, or even chewing on their hair, which can lead to more hair loss.
In certain cases, the immune response to stress can cause the body to attack its own hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
While it's nearly impossible to eliminate stress entirely, managing your stress levels can help you maintain a healthy hair growth cycle.
Practices such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and its impact on your physical health.
Eating a balanced diet is essential for hair health. Certain vitamins, such as B, D, E, and A, along with proteins and omega fatty acids, play a critical role in hair growth and strength.
Regular exercise is a proven stress buster. It aids in improving your mood and can also help with healthy hair growth by improving blood circulation to the scalp.
Lack of sleep can contribute to both mental and physical stress, including hair loss. Ensuring you have enough sleep can help reduce stress levels and the impact it has on your hair.
If you're experiencing significant hair loss, it's a good idea to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance based on your individual health profile and provide treatment options if necessary.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but understanding how it impacts our body and taking steps to manage it can make a significant difference. By addressing stress and its potential impact on hair loss, you're taking steps towards better overall health and well-being. Remember, hair loss from stress is typically temporary, and your hair will usually grow back once the stressor is eliminated.