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Stress and Hair Loss


3 min read

Jan 14, 2021



Have you ever wondered if stress can cause hair loss? Well, you should know that the answer is yes. But what exactly is stress? We’ve all experienced it, but can we actually define it? According to MedlinePlus Medical Encylcopedia

“Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline.”

Stress is interesting because often times just knowing you are stressed can stress you out further.

The three types of hair loss associated with high levels of stress are:

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is caused by a number of factors. One of the factors is severe stress. When someone has alopecia areata, their body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss.  This makes alopecia areata an autoimmune disease.  Alopecia areata can present in the form of circular patches of hair loss on the scalp or over the entire scalp. Alopecia Universalis is a severe form of alopecia areata in which hair is lost from the entire body.

Those who experience alopecia areata may go through cycles of hair loss and regrowth repeatedly. It affects men and women regardless of age. While the condition can be treated with medication, there is currently no known cure.

Telogen Effluvium

To understand telogen effluvium it is good to have a basic understanding of the growth cycle of hair.

The human hair growth cycle has four phases:

Anagen Phase – the growing phase of hair. Anagen typically lasts between two and seven years. About 85-90% of the hairs are in the anagen phase at any given time.

Catagen Phase – a short, two-week phase that occurs when the hair follicle begins to shrink in preparation for the 3rd phase.

Telogen Phase – a three-month resting phase. 10-15% of hairs are in this phase at any given time.

Exogen Phase – the follicle sheds the old hair strand and a new strand begins to grow.

On average, the human scalp has about 100,000 hair follicles. At any given time, each of your hair follicles is in a different phase of the hair growth cycle. If your hair loss has been triggered by stress, managing your stress could be the key to returning to a healthy rate of hair growth.

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that occurs when significant stress causes an excessive number of hair follicles into the resting phase of the hair growth cycle.  After a few months, the affected hairs fall out suddenly when manipulating the hair i.e. combing, brushing, shampooing, etc. To the affected person, telogen effluvium will manifest as excessive amounts of shedding, and the hair thins. It may thin in sections or patches in the middle of the scalp or over the entire head.

Extreme cases of telogen effluvium may cause thinning hair in your eyebrows, genitals, and or other areas of the body. Like alopecia areata, telogen effluvium can affect both men and women, regardless of age. This type of hair loss does not permanently damage the hair follicle and is usually reversible. It may take a few months or longer for hair to grow back, depending on the cause.


Trichotillomania is the irresistible and compulsive urge to pull the hair from your eyebrows, scalp, or other areas of your body. It is usually a way for the sufferer to cope with feelings that make them uncomfortable, stress, frustration, boredom, loneliness, or any type of negative emotion.

Trichotillomania is classified as an impulse control disorder. Some who experience trichotillomania may find that it happens without conscious thought if they are distracted or bored or stressed in any way. Others may be very intentional about it.

When hair is pulled from the eyelashes, scalp, or eyebrows, the fact that this can be very noticeable can put the sufferer under more stress and this perpetuates the cycle of the condition.

Trichotillomania is more frequent in preteens and it can last throughout someone’s entire life. Research suggests that trichotillomania may be genetic but the cause of the condition is not clear.

Is Stress-Related Hair Loss Permanent?

If your hair loss is caused by stress, depending on the type of hair loss you experience it may be possible to regrow your hair over time. How quickly this happens will vary from person to person and on how well the individual learns to manage stressors. Stress and hair loss don’t have to be permanent.

If you notice sudden or patchy hair loss or more than usual hair loss when combing or washing your hair, talk to your doctor. Sudden hair loss can signal an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. If needed, your doctor might also suggest treatment options for your hair loss.


3 min read

Jan 14, 2021



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