Aside from that new breakout you’ve been dealing with or the urge to start binging on snacks during high-stress times, you might also notice changes in your hair. It’s been a stressful year (to say the least), and one of the major reported side effects of stress is hair loss and hair thinning. So, is stress making your hair fall out?
We tapped Dr. Michele Green, dermatologist, and Sophia Emmanuel, trichologist and owner of Crown Worthy, for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about stress and hair loss. Read on to learn about early warning signs, the different types of stress hair loss, the connection between Covid-19 and hair loss, and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
Photo Credit: @sophiaknowshair.
How does stress affect your hair?
According to Green, there are three types of hair loss associated with stress: Telogen effluvium, Trichotillomania, and Alopecia Areata. If you’ve recently gone through shock, a traumatic event, or even a stressful illness (such as Covid-19), you might be experiencing signs of Telogen effluvium.
“With Telogen effluvium, stress causes the hair follicles to become dormant and enter a resting process,” Green explains. “ After three to four months in the resting period the hair falls out. This results in reduced hair growth and thinning.”
Alopecia Areata, on the other hand, is an aut oimmune condition where the immune system attacks its own hair follicles. Trichotillomania is an uncontrolled disorder, which causes someone to impulsively pull hair from the follicle.
Emmanuel adds that certain forms of temporary hair loss, such as Telogen effluvium, can also be tied to lack of nutrients. “If you’re going through emotional stress, for example, you may forget to eat, skip meals, or choose unhealthy foods to eat,” Emmanuel says. “This can lead to poor nutrition which can result in Telogen effluvium.”
If you’re wondering how soon you could expect to notice the signs of stress-related hair loss, Green notes that it can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. That’s why, when it comes to Covid-19 survivors, it can take a while for the stress of the illness to take its toll on their hair.
“The hairs that enter the Telogen effluvium phase when you are sick with Covid-19 stays in that phase for approximately two to four months,” Green says. “As the hair enters the telogen effluvium phase and starts to fall out, these individuals will start to experience hair loss which typically occurs at the top of the scalp.”
How can you tell the difference between stress-related hair loss and other types of hair loss?
When you first spot hair loss, it can be difficult to determine if stress is the actual culprit. Before you can treat the problem, however, Green says it’s essential to determine the underlying issues that are causing your strands to thin or fall out.
“Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors like genetics, hormones, lifestyle, and stress...Consulting with a board-certified dermatologist is the best way to diagnose the specific type of hair loss and formulate a treatment plan,” Green says.
It’s essential to pay attention to warning signs as a first step to managing your hair loss. You might start to notice excessive shedding when brushing, a wider than normal hair part, thinning around the hairline or temples, hair breakage, or circular bald patches scattered through the scalp.
Does stress-related hair loss grow back?
Hair loss caused by stress can be permanent, but don’t panic! Every head of hair is different, and the condition of your strands plays a major role in if your mane will return to normal as well the severity of the hair loss.
“Stress-related hair loss can be permanent; however, it depends on the degree of the hair loss before you seek help,” Green says. “In addition, it also depends on the effectiveness of your chosen treatment and eliminating the stressor.”
Emmanuel emphasizes that identifying the primary cause of your hair loss can be the key to replenishing your strands. “If hair follicles are present and the underlying cause of the hair loss is identified and treated, the hair will grow back three to four months after the hair loss started,” she says.
Can you prevent stress-related hair loss?
If you’re dealing with hair loss of any kind, chances are you’ll try anything to make it stop or prevent it from getting worse. When it comes to stress-related hair loss, Emmanuel suggests that a few key lifestyle changes can help to prevent or reverse the signs of shedding over time.
“You can maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, staying active, and finding ways to minimize and reduce stress. For example, meditation, yoga, replenishing your body with vitamins and minerals by juicing or making smoothies,” Emmanuel advises.
Aside from treating your body (and mane) to some TLC and practicing self-care, there are hair treatments that can be helpful in treating all kinds of hair loss. Green recommends asking your dermatologist about PRP, a non-invasive injectable treatment for hair loss which uses the patient’s own blood to rejuvenate the hair follicles.
“A small blood sample is taken from the patient and placed in a special tube, which is then placed in a machine and spun for ten minutes to separate the plasma from red blood cells,” Green explains. “The separated plasma contains the PRP (platelet rich plasma) which is injected into the scalp to treat hair loss.”
It’s important to note: No one treatment is right for every case of hair loss, so it’s essential to consult with a dermatologist or trichologist to determine what’s right for you and your mane.
While hair products alone can’t promise to treat hair loss, thickening formulas like Kérastase Densifique Bain Densite Shampoo and Fondant Densite Conditioner can help increase the density of your hair while strengthening and adding shine.
Interested in learning more expert hair advice? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.