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Does stress cause alopecia?

15 February 2021


Does stress cause alopecia?  | Clínica de Freitas

We are currently living in times that generate, to a greater or lesser extent, states of anxiety and stress. If we add to the demands of daily life and long working hours the state of pandemic that the whole world is going through, we will have as a result a possible increase in the load of individual and collective stress. So we ask ourselves, can stress be a cause of alopecia? How can we avoid hair loss caused by stress?

What is the relationship between stress and hair health?

The health of our hair is closely related to individual psychological aspects. Undoubtedly, stress is a triggering factor for numerous physical phenomena, including hair loss.

Hair loss, as a general phenomenon, can be due to many causes (genetic, dietary, etc.). Among these triggers, we find people who lose significant amounts of hair when going through emotionally stressful and intense situations.

This phenomenon occurs as a response of the body when the individual experiences sustained situations that generate high amounts of anxiety or anguish.

How does stress affect the hair?

Situations that the individual experiences as stressful trigger a series of physiological actions that result in different forms of alopecia. 

Telogen effluvium caused by stress occurs as follows:

  • In the face of a stressful situation, the body increases the production of cortisol, a hormone whose excess generates a decrease in blood circulation. Consequently, the scalp and hair follicles do not absorb the necessary amounts of nutrients.
  • As a corollary of the previous step, the hair weakens and automatically switches to the telogen phase (shedding phase).
  • As long as the body remains in a state of stress, the follicles will not grow back.
  • Thus, a generalized lack of density and weakening of the existing hair begins to be observed.

Alopecia areata, on the other hand, is a different type of reaction to stress. It involves the autoimmune system that reacts to stress by attacking the body itself and causing localized hair loss in circles.

How does stress-related alopecia manifest itself?

Stress-induced hair loss, also called nervous alopecia, can manifest itself in two common ways:

The most common form of stress alopecia is known as telogen effluvium. In this case, the stress-induced alteration causes the hair to change its cycle to the shedding phase (telogen phase).
Alopecia areata is a process through which the immune system reacts to stress and attacks the hair follicles, preventing their growth and generating circular patches without hair. These bald patches can appear in very delimited parts of the head or be distributed over the entire scalp or even the body.


Is hair loss due to stress permanent?

We have said that stress can have consequences on the body such as alopecia. However, in this case, stress is not the direct cause but works as a trigger of different reactions that lead to hair loss.

It is very important to note that telogen effluvium, as well as alopecia areata, are not definitive. The hair will grow back once the circumstances that generate them have been overcome, since the hair follicle has been detached, but the follicular root (responsible for making hair) is still intact and will produce another follicle.


How to stop hair loss due to stress?

There are different ways to combat this type of alopecia. The main thing is to go to professionals who can determine the exact causes of the problem and indicate the corresponding actions and/or treatments in each case.

Some possible approaches are psychological, nutritional and dermatological, which are not mutually exclusive, but can complement each other to provide comprehensive care that includes the different areas of the individual.

At Clínica de Freitas we are specialists in hair analysis, diagnosis and treatment. We have restored confidence and happiness to thousands of people who trust us to accompany their hair recovery process.

The first evaluation consultation is free of charge. Contact us and tell us your doubts, we are here to advise you.