Hair Loss Problem: Is it due to Stress?
Hair loss or Alopecia is very common in business fraternity nowadays and in particular among CEOs who are the leading sufferers. There are a lot of myths in society related to baldness that make it hard for people to know what’s true about this problem. The common myths relate dandruff, shampoo, use of cold water, wearing hat, exposure to sunlight etc. as the major cause of hair loss. The most common type of Alopecia found in men and women across the world is Male pattern baldness or Female pattern baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia. Although baldness problem is more common in male, a significant number of the female also suffer from the problem at the later stage of their life due to the hormonal changes in their body (menopause or childbirth). According to an estimation Androgenetic Alopecia affects about 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States
Usually, there are 1,00,000 hair follicles present in the human scalp. Shedding of 50-100 hairs is considered normal, but when the number of shedding hairs exceeds the value it is considered excessive hair loss. Proper consultation by a Dermatologist or Cosmetic Surgeon is essential to deal with such a situation who after keen observation suggests a suitable remedy.
There are various reasons for Hair loss:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Auto-immunity disorder
- Nutritional deficiency
- Illness like diabetes
- Iron deficiency (most common cause in women)
- Medication (chemotherapy, thyroid disorder).
In more than 80% of cases, Hair loss is due to the genetic reasons where the genes responsible for baldness are transferred from either mother (60% possibilities) or father (40%possibilities). This type of alopecia affects upto 50% of males between the ages of 30 and 50 years and a significant number of females by the age of 50 and above.
The Mechanism of Pattern Hair Loss in Men and Women: DHT
Hair loss is progressive in nature. The mechanism of Pattern hair loss in men or women (Androgenetic Alopecia) is because of the action of the male hormone(Androgen)or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on genetically sensitive scalp hair follicles. There are a large number of receptors present in the roots which get sensitized on increase in the concentration of the male hormone in the blood.
Usually, there are three stages in hair follicles cycle. First stage is the growth stage (anagen), which lasts for 2-6 years, followed by a regression stage termed (catagen)stage, which lasts for 7-21 days,in which the hair follicles detaches from nourishing blood supply, and a resting stage (telogen), which lasts for approximately 1–4 months.
As a negative effect to the prolonged exposure to DHT, genetically susceptible follicles gradually remain for less time in the growth phase and more time in the resting stage. The hair follicles progressively reduce in size, termed“miniaturization,” this finally causes loss of hair roots from the region eventually leaving a bald region.
The DHT-sensitive hair follicles are normally present in the frontal, mid-frontal and vertex region of the scalp. The progression of Hair loss in men shows a typical pattern scaled on the Norwood scale (I-VII), while in the female the pattern is different initiating from the centre scaled on Ludwig scale (I-III). There is a region in human head from where there is no shedding of hairs even at the age of 90, this region is unique as it consists of large numbers of DHT-resistant follicles or hair follicles in which there are no receptors of Androgen (male hormone) and so they are not sensitized by the male hormone and is often referred to as the “safe zone”.
Stress and Hair loss
Telogen effluvium is the most common type of hair loss caused due to stress. Telogen hairs are a special type of hair, distinguished by the end of the hair being shaped like a bulb, and effluvium means to flow out.
Excessive physical or mental stress may cause anxiety or fatigue or early exhaustion of the body.
This type of hair loss occurs temporarily because of some trauma, stress, or shock to the body. Stress is known to be an important triggering factor for hair loss. Any factor that disrupts hormone levels in the body can trigger telogen effluvium hair loss. Chronic stress at a job or in a relationship, financial trouble, parenting problems, and any other type of physical or emotional stress can have a significant impact on the entire body, including the hair follicles.
A Remedy for Telogen Effluvium
Telogen effluvium resolves on its own once the stress or trauma is over and the body begins to get back to normal. Eating a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fruits, and proteins to get plenty of nutrients, exercising regularly, relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, performing recreation activities or listening music, getting involved socially and treating hair gently, especially when styling and using heating gadgets help in getting rid of this kind of hair loss problem. A vitamin and mineral supplement at the physician advice helps in recovering any deficiencies, like B12, iron, or folic acid.
Hair loss caused due to chronic stress is not permanent. Effectively managing stress and trying different stress management techniques can help you get back your healthy hair.