Stress can cause a lot of health problems and unfortunately also ruin your hair. This past year has been extremely stressful, and many people are experiencing more health issues and hair problems than any of the most recent years. Let’s talk about how stress can cause thinning hair, hair loss, gray hair, and overall poor hair health.
Of course, gray hair is inevitable as you age. But why do some people have gray hair much sooner in life? Part of it could be genetics and part of it could be stress. Scientists see a direct link between your body’s fight or flight stress response and gray hairs. There are certain chemicals released in your body during this stress response. It can cause a multitude of health issues and ultimately change your hair’s color. More specifically, the chemical norepinephrine can cause pigment-producing stem cells to activate much sooner which means your hair cannot produce its natural color anymore.2 This damage is permanent. This means that once you have a gray hair, another hair with your natural color will not grow in its place.
Unfortunately, stress can cause even bigger problems with your hair including hair thinning and hair loss. Several types of hair loss are associated with stress. First, there is telogen effluvium.1 This is when severe stress starts causing your hair follicles to go into a resting phase. This means they will start falling out suddenly and could even fall out in clumps. This could happen after a stressful event like the birth of a baby, a death in the family, or the loss of a job. Usually, when your stress levels go back down, your hair will go back to normal.
Trichotillomania1 is a type of hair loss that is self-inflicted. A person that suffers from this condition has the irresistible urge to start pulling their hair out. This could be triggered by extreme stress or another mental illness. Many times, younger people suffer from this. Once the stress is dealt with, this condition should calm itself down. The person may pull out hair from anywhere including eyebrows, eyelashes, etc.
Lastly, alopecia areata1 can be caused by extreme stress. In this case, the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles which causes hair loss. Luckily, when hair loss or hair thinning is caused by stress it will likely fix itself once you are less stressed.
If you notice your hair has begun to fall out and you are experiencing high levels of stress, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, work on lowering your stress levels. Also, be patient. It may take several months for your hair to go back to normal. You could also use a hair regrowth treatment to help your hair regrow faster.
Have you ever experienced hair thinning, hair loss, or premature gray hair after a stressful event in your life? How long did it take to go back to normal?
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