Stress can have a number of negative effects on our body — it can cause stomachache, eye twitching, heart racing and breakouts. Did you know stress can also affect your hair?
Pulling your hair out?
You’ve probably experienced your fair share of stressful situations that make you want to “pull your hair out,” as the saying goes. As it turns out, there is a bit of truth behind this common phrase. Stress cause people to actually pull their hair out – it’s called trichotillomania, a psychological condition that causes an individual to pull out hair from their scalp, eyebrows and other places to deal with stress and anxiety. Plus, being worked up over a big project at work or worried about your relationship can even cause hair to fall out on its own.
There are two stress-related conditions that can cause your hair to fall out.
• Alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack the hair follicle. This causes hair to fall out and stops hair growth from the attacked follicles. Although a variety of factors can cause this condition, severe stress is thought to be a key player.
• Telogen effluvium. Hair grows in phases. For two to three years, about 90 percent of the hairs on your head are growing about ½ an inch per month. After that, they go into a “resting phase” for three to four months before falling out and being replaced by a new one.
That’s in a healthy person. If you’re under extreme emotional or physical stress, it can push large numbers of hair into the resting phase prematurely, which makes them fall out. This can occur up to three months after a stressful time. However, it usually grows back in about six to nine months.
If you notice your hair falling out in huge chunks in the shower or while brushing, talk to your doctor to see if there’s an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.
Is stress to blame for going gray?
Maybe the assumption that stress leads to gray and white hair came from our parents and teachers telling us to cut it out before we make them go gray. Or that a stressful job “took years off my life.” These phrases are mostly based in fiction, but there might be some truth to them.
It’s hard not to notice how a once-dark-haired president leaves office with a head of white hair. Most of us make the connection with stress and gray hair since, after four or eight years in the most stressful job in the country, presidents go gray.
Science tells us hair color is linked to DNA, and stress doesn’t affect DNA – it’s the inevitable damage (caused by aging) to DNA in cells that produce the pigment. However, some speculate that severe stress can accelerate the aging process, leading to white hair.
Chill out; save your hair!
Stress has the ability to wreak havoc on your hair, so what can you do? Well, first and foremost, chill out! It is important for your whole body to have a healthy outlet to either let off steam or decompress.
Stress will always be there, but once you figure out how to deal with it, it doesn’t need to ravage your hair and body. Only you know what works best to de-stress – whether it’s regular yoga sessions, chats with a friend or a few hours spent with a good book.
To learn more, visit Keranique, on Amazon.