Stress & Hair Loss. What's the Connection?
Ask people what they believe causes hair loss and stress is at the top of the list along with genetics and ageing. Of those 3 hair loss factors - genetics, aging, and stress - stress is the most controllable. Easier said than done, right?
Not all stress is created equal. Recognizing the type of stress – acute, chronic, or oxidative - behind your hair loss is important to know what you can do about it.
If you have ever been through an extremely stressful phase, like the break-up of a serious relationship, and noticed a sudden onset of hair loss a few months later, you’ve likely experienced telogen effluvium triggered by acute stress.
Acute stress is a temporary stress caused by an extreme event like childbirth, spiking a high fever, changing jobs, or going through a major break-up. This spike in stress levels can trigger a sudden episode of hair shedding (aka telogen effluvium), when an abnormally high number of hairs suddenly jump from the growing phase to the resting phase of the hair growth cycle.
The good news. Hair loss caused by acute stress can be reversible. Once the stress is behind you and the hair growth cycle resets, it’s possible to get back to the hair you had before.
Relieve stress with proven activities like exercise, yoga or meditation. Even a 30-minute walk each day can make a difference. And be patient – growing back your hair does take time. Take good care of the newly growing hair so it turns into the healthy lengths you want. See the Extra Tip below.
More than a singular event, chronic stress is prolonged exposure to stress - and it is hard on the body. On-going health problems, living with a troubled relationship, a global pandemic, or even a high-stress job can all cause chronic stress.
Shedding hair is one way your body may react to chronic stress. In fact, a study comparing men in high stress jobs to men in low stress jobs found that those in higher stress jobs experienced more hair loss. Hair loss can be an outward sign of the havoc stress is wreaking throughout your body – like the dun dun dun dun music in Jaws telling you something’s not right under the water.
As with acute stress, take steps to reduce the stress. If it’s not possible to get away from the cause of it and if daily activity does not help, talk to your doctor. It’s important for your overall health, much less, your hair.
The 3rd type is not a psychological stress, it is stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress is what causes skin to age prematurely from too much sun or smoking. It can come from environmental factors that are all around us – UV exposure, moisture or pollution.
Studies have shown that scalp skin is affected by oxidative stress, even if it is covered by hair. Free radicals are molecular-level menaces that set off a chain reaction of trouble. For scalp skin, that means disrupting the outer layers to the point of the scalp losing its grip on hair at the roots. Early and excessive hair loss is the result. While it is absolutely normal to shed hairs daily, oxidative stress increases the amount lost.
Unlike acute and chronic stress, oxidative stress can be managed without a lifestyle change – just a change to your hair products. KeepItAnchored’s Hair Anchor Blend of antioxidant salts, mineral zinc, and b-vitamins has been clinically proven to calm oxidative stress at the scalp and strengthen hair at the roots. Using the Hair Anchoring Essence daily and washing with the KeepItAnchored system reduces daily hair loss so you keep more hair.
EXTRA TIP for those regrowing hair after an episode of acute stress, which includes post-partum hair loss – KeepItAnchored can strengthen the roots of the new growth, so your hair comes back healthy, strong and stays put for longer.
We can’t control our lives, we can only control how we respond to things. And if changes to your hair is the reason you to take control over the stress in your life, you’ll have your hair to thank for the many benefits.
- Botchkarev, VA, Stress and the Hair Follicle: Exploring the Connections, J. Pathol. 2003; 162: 709-712.
- Thom, E. Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption, Drugs Dermatol. 2016; 15: 1000-1004.
- Trueb, RM, Henry, JP, Davis, MG, Schwartz, JR, Scalp Condition Impacts Hair Growth and Retention via Oxidative Stress, Int. J. Trichology 2018; 10:262-270.