Watching your hair thin or fall out isn’t fun, but it’s not always due to genetics. Stress can cause your hair to fall out too. Whether it’s illness-related stress or stress from regular life demands, it can cause reactions in your body that cause physical issues, such as hair loss.
You may not notice the issue right away as it takes the body a few months to show signs of hair loss. Once the hair loss occurs, it’s hard to stop it – the hair must go through an entire cycle in order for the hair to grow back again.
Why Stress Causes Hair Loss
Stress-related hair loss is called telogen effluvium. This occurs when stress causes the hair’s follicles to stop working – they go into a ‘resting phase’ rather than growing. This causes your hair follicles to quickly move into the ‘shedding phase’ without the additional stimulation of new hair growth.
Sometimes this occurs all over the head and other times it occurs in certain spots, like right at the front of the head or at the center of the scalp. On average, a person with telogen effluvium loses 300 hairs a day compared to the average person that loses 100 hairs per day.
The hair loss may be temporary, but in some cases, it can be chronic too. Typically the stress is ‘shocking’ to the system, which is why the hair stops growing. When the issue passes, the hair may go back to its normal phases unless the stress is ongoing, such as occurs with illness-related stress.
Signs of Stress Hair Loss
Typically, stress hair loss isn’t completely noticeable at first glance. You may notice some thinning, but you may not have large bald spots right away.
As you get further into the phase, though, you may notice that if you or your doctor tug on your hair that you leave with a handful of hair in your hands, leading to the diagnosis of telogen effluvium. The hairs that come out are those in the telogen phase, or the relaxed phase. They may not look like your normal hair – they typically have a white tip – this is the hair that was in the scalp that has fallen out. They haven’t had a chance to transform and get the gel-like protective coverage that normal hairs contain.
Typically, you’ll see clumps of hair falling out over the course of the day. If you’re so inclined, you can count the hairs or at least get a good estimate. If it’s more than 100 hairs a day that fall out, chances are that it’s telogen effluvium as that’s the baseline.
How Quickly Does Stress Cause Hair Loss?
Stress doesn’t cause immediate hair loss. It actually takes a few months for it to start showing. The hair typically starts falling out when a new growth cycle starts. As the hair grows in, it starts pushing out the ‘dead’ hair or the hair that’s lost from the stress.
Because new hair takes between three and six months to show up, it will look as if you have a bald spot or are losing your hair until the new hair grows in fully. If the stress cycles continue, it becomes impossible for new hair to grow in and stay in, making it look as if you’re losing your hair.
How Stress Causes a Domino Effect in Hair Loss
Stress isn’t the only culprit in hair loss. It’s like the leading domino in a stack of dominoes. When your body becomes stressed, you naturally make poor choices. For example, most people eat poorly and don’t exercise when stressed. This leaves the body with less than optimal nutrients, which leads to decreased hair growth. Hair is considered ‘non-essential’ so it’s often one of the first areas to suffer when your body’s lacking nutrients, such as protein and iron.
The Difference Between Stress Hair Loss and Genetic Hair Loss
Stress hair loss often occurs suddenly and quickly. If your body experiences stress and it disrupts the hair cycle, you’ll notice hair falling out in clumps a few weeks to a few months after the occurrence. This differs from genetic hair loss, which usually results in hair thinning over time. It may take weeks or even months before anyone, including yourself, notices a difference in your hair with genetic hair loss.
Treating Stress-Related Hair Loss
Treating stress-related hair loss can be simple. Oftentimes, it just takes time and rest. However, in some cases, medical care is needed, especially if you’re deficient in certain nutrients, such as iron or protein.
If the hair loss is due to stress alone, implement stress-reducing techniques into your life. A few things to try include:
- Seeing a counselor
- Taking regular walks
If managing your stress doesn’t help the issue, it may be time to seek medical attention to determine if there’s an underlying issue. When you talk to your doctor, inquire about your dietary habits. Your doctor may have suggestions to help you fulfill your nutritional gaps and give your body the vitamins it requires.
Can you Reverse Stress-Related Hair Loss?
Fortunately, stress-related hair loss isn’t permanent. In fact, when you start noticing the hair falling out, it means new hair growth has begun. Because it can take months for new hair growth to show and fill in the thinning areas, supplementing with a hair restoration product that helps your hair grow and fill in faster, leaving you with fuller, thicker hair.
The key to natural hair growth is to get your stress under control and ensure that you’re getting the proper nutrients to fulfill your body’s needs. When your hair does start growing back, it will be thicker, fuller, and healthier when you supplement with hair growth products that help hide the hair loss.
Don’t let hair loss affect your self-esteem. Get hair restoration products that restore your hair to its beautiful natural state. Telogen effluvium may seem scary, but it’s common and reversible, not to mention its symptoms are treatable while you wait.