What Stress Does to Your Hair

Did you know that stress, that seemingly natural response to something challenging, can have an adverse effect on your hair? Yes, stress can cause you to experience hair loss, among other problems. Learn more about what stress does to hair and how you can combat it.

Different Types of Stress Levels that Can Affect Your Hair

The following are types of stress levels that can cause hair problems and they include:

1. Telogen Effluvium

This is a condition where the hair falls out as a result of extreme stress, weight loss, and poor diet, among other factors. It begins with the hair becoming weak, followed by abnormal shedding, and thinning. If you’re suffering from telogen effluvium, you’ll notice that when you brush or wash your hair, more hair falls out than normal, at an alarming rate. You’ll also notice that your hair looks and feels thinner than it should be.

This, however, is temporary and the hair usually grows back after some months.

2. Alopecia Areata

This is a hair condition that occurs when the hair falls out in small patches, leaving random spots of baldness on the scalp. Alopecia areata is a common hair condition that affects millions of people all over the world, gender and age regardless (although it is rare in newborns and infants). Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body’s immune system mistakes the hair follicles for foreign invaders and attacks them. While scientists and researchers are yet to discover the exact reason for this, stress is attributed to be one of the potential contributing factors to the condition.

Although this has no known cure, it can be treated and this will be discussed later on in this article.

Read more: What You Need To Know About Temporary And Permanent Hair Loss

3. Trichotillomania

This is a mental/physiological disorder that causes a person to pull out their hair from the scalp. When a person does this, they leave bald patches on their scalp. Chronic stress can cause a person to suffer from trichotillomania.

Lean more: What is Trichotillomania? Two Women Share their Honest Experiences with Hair Pulling

Ways Stress Can Affect Your Hair and How to Combat Them

1. Hair Loss

As has been discussed above, extreme stress can cause you to experience certain conditions that lead to hair loss. Telogen effluvium usually goes away on its own after a few months but you can speed up the process by seeking the help of a professional (trichologist or a doctor). Together, you both can identify the underlying cause(s) of this condition which could be poor diet, harsh hair treatments, and mental strain as a result of circumstances, among others.

To treat trichotillomania, you’ll need to work with a medical professional for medications and therapy. The major therapies used for treating trichotillomania are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and habit reversal therapy (HRT).

For alopecia areata, as has been stated already, sadly, there is no known cure. However, medications and therapy can be used to manage the condition. It is best to consult with a professional.

2. Overproduction of Sebum

Extreme stress can cause your scalp to produce more oil (sebum) than is necessary, leading to seborrheic dermatitis such as itching, flaking, dandruff, and even acne. You can deal with this by practicing relaxation techniques and using products specifically formulated for dealing with seborrheic dermatitis.

3. Premature Graying

While genetics can be a major contributing factor when it comes to premature graying, high levels of stress can also trigger it. According to [this 2022 study](https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2020/04/how-stress-causes-gray-hair#:~:text=A new study shows that,pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.), stress can cause premature graying in people. However, the good news is it can be reversed. In the course of their study, the researchers discovered that when a sufferer took a vacation, their hair color was restored to its original one. If you suffer from premature graying, you should identify and eliminate the cause of your stress. You should also seek professional help as you may need to take medication and modify/change your diet.

4. Dull-looking Hair

Stress can result in a reduction of blood flow to the scalp which in turn can lead to dull-looking and lifeless hair. If you suffer from this, you can combat it by eliminating your stressors and then using hair products such as hair masks, to restore its shine.

5. Slow Growth

Stress can slow the process of hair growth in a person, thus resulting in shorter hair length. If you notice that your hair remains at a particular length for a period longer than usual, and you’re going through stress, then you should know that the stress is the root cause. You can treat this by massaging your scalp to increase blood flow, eat healthily, and also deal with the factors that contribute to your stress.

Check out more tips to improve your length retention.

6. Thinning Hair/Hair Breakage

Chronic stress can cause your hair to become weak, leading to split ends, thinning hair, and hair breakage. If you’ve noticed this, the best thing to do is speak with a professional. You may be given medication or supplements and also guided to modify your lifestyle. Furthermore, you may need to get hair products that help to combat these problems.

Emotional and mental strain can cause hormonal imbalance which in turn leads to hair problems. If you suspect that stress is to blame for your hair problems, then you should seek professional help as soon as possible. Stress can be managed and some of your hair problems can be reversed, you just need to take the right action.

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