Photo Credit: Andres Guerra
Alopecia, the clinical term for hair loss, is common in both men and women these days.. Research has shown that, besides genetics, stress triggers are a leading cause of alopecia in both genders. If you’re experiencing hair loss, there’s a good chance stress plays a role.
Hair Loss Due To Stress Triggers
Stress triggers can affect your hair health. Although this damage isn’t permanent, understanding its causes can help you nurture regrowth. Either physical or emotional stress can lurk behind two main types of hair loss.
- Alopecia Areata (AA)
This stress-induced hair loss is an autoimmune disease involving a white blood cell attack on the hair follicles, mostly triggered by stress. However, there may be a repeated cycle of regrowth and hair loss over time.
This condition can affect men and women of any age, with over six million cases recorded in the United States. Although there is no known treatment for Alopecia Areata, some prescriptions may help those experiencing 50 percent hair loss or more.
Alopecia areata can take different forms that affect the extent of damage it causes. Let’s check out the most familiar forms.
Alopecia areata normally does not require any treatment before it heals. But, in a case where it doesn’t heal on its own, it can grow into Alopecia Totalis, in which all of the hair on the scalp falls out completely. This form of hair loss can occur quickly or slowly over time.
This is the most severe form of alopecia areata, and very rare. When alopecia areata takes the form of alopecia universalis, all of the hair on your body falls out, including your eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic hair.
- Telogen Effluvium
This is a familiar but relatively mild hair loss condition triggered by stress. It stops hair growth for a while, and then the hair falls out about 3 months later, taking another 6 to 9 months to grow back.
- Anagen Effluvium (Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia)
Also known as Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia, CIA, or Anagen Effluvium, this condition causes the hair to fall out after chemotherapy. It’s one of the most visibly painful side effects of generally prescribed chemotherapeutic medications.
- Androgenic Alopecia
This type of hair loss appears as a receding hairline, thinning hair on your crown, or both. Presently, there’s no cure for this condition, bu, certain treatments can prevent it from worsening.
Doctors recommend treating it with minoxidil, an over-the-counter topical treatment, and Finasteride, a prescription medicine.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss globally.. Despite its nickname, male pattern baldness, this condition affects women as well.
In some recorded cases, it can result in baldness at the crown, and it also affects hair around the hairline. However, it doesn’t affect hair on the back of the head or the sides.
- Cicatricial Alopecia (Scarring Alopecia)
This type of hair loss is easily recognizable because of the scars it leaves under the surface of the skin. Unfortunately, it is medically impossible to reverse this type of hair loss. Minoxidil can help you grow your hair back and stop further scarring, but it only affects undamaged hair.
This rare form of alopecia destroys hair follicles on the scalp with breakouts and replaces them with scar tissues. It can be hard to see the scars forming under the surface of the skin, so the only way to detect this condition is to look for missing patches of hair.
Unfortunately, hair loss caused by this type of alopecia is permanent. Once the sebaceous glands and the follicles’ stem cells get damaged, the hair can’t grow again.
Below are a few other forms of cicatricial or scarring alopecia:
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia is a form of scarring Alopecia where the hair follicle gets damaged first. Then, the damaged hair follicle gets replaced with scar tissues. This Condition causes the hair to fall out across the front of the scalp and also affects the eyebrows.
This condition results in new patches of scalp that mostly appear at the front, on the sides, and at the lower back.
- Alopecia Barbae (Beard Alopecia)
You can recognize alopecia barbae, or beard alopecia, when you discover patchy hair loss on your beard. With proper treatment, the hair can regrow, but may fall out again when treatment stops. Minoxidil, corticosteroids, or home remedies like garlic gel can reasonably contain this condition.
Clearly, this condition affects your beard, and it’s only a myth that male pattern baldness affects beards. Having androgenic alopecia doesn’t mean you’ll have alopecia barbae, and vice versa.
- Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling)
Trichotillomania, or Hair Pulling, is a psychological hair loss compulsion to pull out hair continuously. It typically causes hair loss on the eyebrows, scalp, and eyelashes.
- Traction Alopecia
This common type of hair loss among African-American women leads to receding hairline or patches of hair loss in the temple area. Are you always on tight braids? If so, you cannot escape this condition. The hair may grow back, but unaddressed traction alopecia can cause permanent damage.. Regular salon trips are crucial!
Keeping your hair in braids or other tight hairstyles for so long destroys it.. Braiding your hair occasionally is typically safe, but if you see your hairline begin to recede, immediately switch to a looser hairstyle.
- Postpartum Alopecia
I know about this type of hair loss from personal experience. It often creates noticeable hair loss 2 to 3 months after delivery, although, with me, it took about 6 months. There’s no medical solution to this condition, but your hair will return to its natural growth rate after a few months.
It is advisable to watch out for any nutritional deficiencies that might be accelerating your hair loss. Also known as Postpartum Telogen Effluvium, Postpartum Alopecia is fairly common, so you can expect some shedding after pregnancy ends.
However, for some women, the hair loss becomes more severe and noticeable, which can be really troubling. . Fortunately, because it’s an effect of hormonal shifts, it typically resolves after about a year, when hormone levels return to normal. .. A word of advice: if you are pregnant, continue with your prenatals, or try postnatal vitamins, to ensure your body is absorbing proper nutrients for you as well as for your beautiful bundle of joy.. Of course, review this personal advice with your doctor.
Note: There are a few cases where recovery is incomplete,, like in my own case of Postpartum Alopecia. My hair does grow back in waves, but dietary and stress triggers can make it fall out again.
Treating Hair Loss Triggered By Stress
Dealing with hair loss triggered by stress is possible.. By regulating certain daily activities, you can effectively reduce hair loss and nurture the regrowth process.
- Balanced Diet And Nutrition
Sticking to a balanced and nutritious diet can be really helpful in improving your hair health. Vitamins are especially important, and Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C are essential for hair growth.
Your doctor can identify some very effective supplement options and recommend the dosage that works best for you.
Note: Never include nutritional supplements in your regular diet without directions from your doctor.
- Always Stay Hydrated
Staying properly hydrated is also crucial to your hair health and your general well-being as well. Your body, and every cell in it, depend on water to function properly.
A daily target of 16 cups of water and 12 cups of water is appropriate for men and women respectively. 8 of these cups can be actual water, while the rest can come from your foods and beverages.
- Embrace Effective Stress Management
Understanding your body and managing your stress levels can reduce your chances of further hair loss and encourage regrowth. This does require some discipline!
Below are some common yet effective ways to manage your stress:
- Exercise regularly to manage your stress level. Activity can be as basic as doing some yard work, taking a light daily walk, or joining a dance class.
- Activities you enjoy are a great way to combat stress triggers. You can take part in volunteer work, plant a garden, or become a part of your local community art group.
- Take a few minutes from your daily schedule to write about anything that appeals to you; maybe your feelings or the things that stress you most. This strategy can help you form effective coping strategies.
Try out breathing and meditation exercises, which are proven to help you concentrate on the present moment and relieve stress. Techniques like tai chi and yoga are ideal.
Stress-related hair loss conditions do not permanently damage your hair follicles. Through effective stress management and proper healthcare, your hair can return to its normal growth rate.
If your hair loss is not caused by stress triggers, then consult your doctor to identify the actual cause. Proper diagnosis is the first step towards treating hair loss effectively.