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Does stress cause alopecia?

15 February 2021


Does stress cause alopecia?  | Clínica de Freitas

We currently live in moments 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 experiencing, we will have as a result a possible increase in the burden of individual and collective stress. 

So we wonder, can stress be cause of alopecia? How to 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 trigger for many physical phenomena, among which is hair loss.

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

This phenomenon happens as a response of the body when the individual lives in a sustained way situations that generate high amounts of anxiety or anguish.

How does stress affect the hair?

The situations that the individual experiences as stressful trigger a series of physiological actions that end in different forms of alopecia.

Thetelogen effluvium caused by stress, it happens as follows:

  • In a stressful situation, the body increases the production of cortisol, a hormone whose excess causes a decrease in blood circulation. Consequently, the scalp and hair follicles do not absorb the necessary amounts of nutrients.
  • As a corollary to the previous step, the hair weakens and automatically switches to the telogen phase (Hair Loss Phase).
  • During the entire time that the body is in a state of stress, the follicles will not grow back.
  • In this way, a general lack of density and weakening of the existing hair begins to be observed.

On the other hand, alopecia areata 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 is stress alopecia manifested?

Hair loss caused by stress, or also called alopecia nervosa, can manifest itself in two common ways:

  • The most common form of stress alopecia is known as telogen effluvium. In this case, the alteration caused by stress causes the hair to change its cycle to the fall phase (telogen phase).
  • Alopecia areata It is a process through which the immune system reacts to stress states and attacks the hair follicles, preventing their growth and generating circular hairless patches.

These bald areas can manifest in very limited parts of the head or distribute throughout the entire scalp or even the body.

Is hair loss due to stress definitive?

We have said that stress can have consequences in the body such as alopecia. However, in this case, stress is not the direct cause, but it works as a trigger for 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 detached, but the follicular root (responsible for generating the hair) remains intact and will produce another hair follicle.

How to stop stress hair loss?

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 hair loss 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.

OnFreitas Clinicwe are specialists in hair analysis and hair treatments. We have restored the trust and happiness of thousands of people who trust us to accompany their hair recovery process.

The first evaluation consultation is free. Get in touch with us and tell us your questions, we are here to advise you.