Stress.  The word is synonymous with today’s world.  Frequently, you hear people complaining about the stress they feel.  Job stress.  Debt stress.  Health stress.  Family problems-related stress.  All kinds of stress.    Sometimes when an individual is feeling stress for a prolonged period, they notice what appears to be hair loss.  Maybe you’re seeing more of your hair on your brush?  More hair on the bathtub floor when showering?  More hair strands than usual on your pillow?  Do you find yourself swiping hair strands off your shoulders throughout the day?   If so, you may be experiencing a medical problem that associates with chronic hair loss or temporary hair loss.  Or you may be experiencing a temporary increase in hair shedding.  And your stress level might be increased by the realization of your hair problem!

Hair Loss Versus Hair Shedding

You’re certain you’re losing hair.  But are you experiencing hair loss or hair shedding? Where there is hair loss, many factors may be at play.   You may be dealing with a permanent hair loss issue such as alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness), male pattern baldness, a receding hairline, or some other issue related to the alopecia family.   Perhaps you’re dealing with temporary hair loss. Trigger mechanisms for temporary hair loss vary and may include a medical condition, an autoimmune system condition, an impulse control disorder such as Trichotillomania (TTM and sometimes referred to as trich), the introduction of a drug treatment to a person’s body, a chemical condition brought on by a hair care product, or chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments.  If your hair loss is attributive to one of these types of trigger mechanisms, it is important to note that your hair will not grow until the trigger mechanism or cause of the hair loss is stopped.  Or perhaps what appears to be hair loss is in actual fact a prolonged incidence of increased hair shedding.  Shedding is a natural part of the hair growth cycle that includes the phases Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen.  (Check out our blog entitled Seasonal Hair Loss.)   If you are noticing an increase in the amount of hair you are losing, consider other factors such as the appearance of your scalp.  Does it appear healthy?  Or is it scaly in places?  Do you see patchy balding areas or rather a generalized hair-thinning pattern?  These are the type of indicators a dermatologist will take into consideration when analyzing your situation as permanent or temporary hair loss or a prolonged phase of increased hair shedding.

Stress as an Underlying Cause of Hair Loss or Hair Shedding

Sometimes, stress is the underlying cause of incidents of hair loss or increased hair shedding.  Hair loss and hair shedding conditions that associate with stress include:

  • Trichotillomania – an impulse control disorder characterized by recurrent hair pulling. (Check out our blog entitled Trichotillomania (Trich) and Hair Replacement.)
  • Alopecia Areata – an inflammatory disease of the immune system.  Hair growth is stopped when white cells attack hair follicles.  The noticeable visible sign is patchy bald spots on the cranium.  Genetic factors are believed to be the underlying cause, and stress may come into play.   The problem may be temporary for some individuals, while others may be dealing permanent hair loss. (Check out our blog entitled Alopecia…What is it and How Does Non-Surgical Hair Replacement Apply?)
  • Telogen Effluvium (TE) – Telogen effluvium is a scalp disorder characterized by the occurrence of hair thinning or diffuse hair shedding.   The hair thinning or diffusion may appear evenly on the scalp, or may appear uneven, concentrated more on the top than the sides or back of the scalp.  Telogen Effluvium associates with the telogen phase of the hair cycle.  The hair cycle includes 3 phases – Anagen (growth), Catagen (transitional), and Telogen (the resting phase). Anagen hair lasts approximately 3 years on a person’s scalp, whereas Telogen hair lasts approximately 3 months (although it is generally accepted that there is significant lasting-time variation for Telogen hair from individual to individual).  During the Telogen phase, resting hairs remain in the follicle until they are pushed out by the growth of new Anagen hair.  Telogen hairs can be recognized by a small bulb of keratin on the root end. At any given time, 5 to 15% of the hair on the scalp is in the Telogen phase.  It is generally accepted that Telogen Effluvium is triggered by an emotional or physiological stress such as any one of the trigger mechanisms mentioned earlier in this article in the section Hair Loss Versus Hair Shedding.   A person’s stress level may amplify by the simply realization of the hair problem they are dealing with.   It is important to note, however, that men and women with TE typically do not lose all their scalp hair, even though their hair may become noticeably thin.  TE is usually limited to a person’s scalp, although has been known to affect other areas such as the eyebrows.  TE is fully reversible.  If you are experiencing TE, your hair follicles are not permanently or irreversibly affected; there are just more hair follicles in a resting state than there should normally be.

If you have been feeling stressed and you are noticing your hair is diminishing, find out the cause. You may be dealing with a form of permanent hair loss.  Or maybe you’re dealing with a form of temporary hair loss.  Perhaps you’re dealing with increased hair shedding.  Whatever your situation, if you’re uncomfortable with your appearance and you’re considering options to counteract and/or conceal the hair loss or hair shedding you’re experiencing, you are invited to contact NCHR.  Our non-surgical approach functions to conceal hair loss and restore a man or woman’s look with hair.

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