How Much Can Stress Induce Hair Loss?


Androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male or female pattern baldness is the largest offender for hair loss but another common cause that can trigger hair loss is stress related conditions. There are 3 hair cycles a hair follicle goes through, catagen, telegon and anagen; anagen, is the active phase of hair growth when cells divide to form the hair shaft, pushing the old hair out of the scalp, lasting somewhere between 2 to 6 years.

Catagen phase; the hair stops growing, the base of the hair or the root starts to atrophy or shrink as it becomes detached from the blood supply; around 3% of our hair is in this stage at any time.

The telogen phase is the resting stage with around 8% of the hair in this stage at any given time, lasting approximately 3 months.

Telogen effluvium, a condition that causes a greater % of hair to enter into the resting phase at the same time, resulting in a greater number of hairs shedding at the same time; commonly considered to be created by stress levels in the body increasing. This is generally prolonged emotionally stressful periods in life and not just a bad day at work; on some occasions once the stressful period is over the hair can rebalance the natural hair cycles, but this can take time, maybe 12 months.

It is believed by some doctors that the condition is caused by the body shutting down less important body organs to maintain the health of more important aspects of the body physiology. The increase in shedding can be stressful in its own right, as it seems that with the amount of shedding on a daily basis it would not be long before there was no hair left to shed. The use of hair retention medications may help to reduce the shedding over time, but can initially increase shedding temporarily.

As always it is best to seek medical advice before undertaking a hair retention programme, and especially before considering a hair transplant as the hair loss is not under control it is best to wait until hair loss has stabilised and then assess the situation

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