“Tearing our hair out” is a much used idiom to explain to others that we are worried or upset about something. But for many women, it’s unfortunately more than just a saying. Stress-induced hair loss seems to be becoming more commonplace, a symptom we can attribute in part, to the unprecedented level of anxiety caused by the pandemic as well as the illness itself.
Normally, humans shed around 50 to 100 hairs a day. New hairs displace old ones; that’s the cycle of life. But when you’re losing over 100 a day, it’s more than just shedding, and it could well be stress-induced hair loss that’s behind it.
New research from scientists at Harvard University confirms that any stressful situation can cause hair loss. Trauma, illness, nutritional deficiencies, pregnancy, the menopause, relationship problems and financial worries are just some of the potential triggers. If you’re one of the thousands of women affected by this, the good news is that stress and anxiety related hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent.
We have outlined below 10 ways to help with stress-induced hair loss.
1) Understand your problem
The first step to solving a problem is to understand it. There are three types of hair loss associated with stress:
- Telogen effluvium: Probably the most common type of stress-induced hair loss. It causes large number of hair follicles into a resting phase, so growth stops. Eventually the hairs simply fall out when washing or brushing your hair.
- Alopecia areata: The immune system attacks the follicles and causes hairs to fall out. It’s believed that stress can be a major cause of the condition.
- Trichotillomania: This condition involves the person compulsively pulling hairs out of their scalp and other areas of the body. It is often a coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety
2) Get more sleep
Lack of sleep is a major driver of stress, especially if it is allowed to persist for a long period of time. Significant negative consequences of lack of sleep on the body can include stress induced hair loss. You should aim to get at least 7-8 hours sleep a night. Go to bed and get up at the same time every night to promote a regular sleep pattern. Avoid any stimulation like TV shows and put lap-tops and phones away at least an hour before you go to bed. Try other things to help you switch off like reading a book, giving yourself a pamper session or taking a warm bath instead.
3) Exercise regularly
Exercise is a proven way to tackle stress. If you don’t exercise regularly, try to make it a priority. Start with something simple that is easy to build into your day – a daily walk or a 20 minute wind down yoga session in the evenings (there are plenty of good ones on YouTube). Then try upgrading to a swim, a run or an exercise class. Keep to a regular routine and aim for at least 3 or 4 times a week, and split your workouts between cardio and strength work if you can.
4) Focus on diet & nutrition
A 2015 review in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research lists crash dieting and malnutrition as some of the causes of telogen effluvium. Eating correctly is critical to hair health (as well as the rest of your body) and if you’re not putting the right fuel in, your hair may not be getting the nutrition that it needs to recover from stress induced hair loss and thrive. Focus on whole foods and eating three well-balanced meals a day. Never be tempted to skip breakfast; it ignites your metabolism and stops you reaching for unhealthy snacks before lunch. Avoid processed and sugary foods and eat plenty of lean protein as your hair is primarily made of it. Keep hydrated and try to drink 8 glasses of water a day.
5) Take the right vitamins & supplements
To help with stress-induced hair loss, you should include essential vitamins and minerals in your diet too. Supplements formulated for hair growth like Grow by Hair Gain can be easily built into your routine.
Scientifically proven to reduce hair loss, our capsules and gummies contain the exclusive AnaGain ingredient which is derived from the organic pea shoot. It works by stimulating molecules within the dermal papilla cells in hair follicles to promote growth. They also contain Zinc and Biotin, which are considered especially beneficial to hair and scalp health too.
Consult with you doctor before building new supplements into your regime.
6) Use relaxation techniques
Another great stress management tool. Practising yoga, meditation or mindfulness are wonderful ways to help you decompress and switch off. Even a few minutes daily will help to reduce the stress that could be causing your hair loss. Breathing exercises before you go to bed and when you wake up can be beneficial. Check out apps like Calm and Headspace for great guidance and sessions.
7) Talk to someone
Bottling up your feelings is a sure-fire way of increasing your stress levels. Speaking to friends or family about your worries can help you vent and get things in perspective. Don’t rule out seeking professional help – a therapist can talk you through your anxiety issues - and even shine a light on the root cause of your problems.
8) Be gentle to your hair
The right hair care routine can help improve hair health, strengthening it and making it less likely to fall out. Use shampoos and conditioners suited to your hair type, and look for products using natural, organic ingredients. Ease up on hair styling tools too, blow drying, straightening and curling too much can be very bad for your hair. When dyeing your hair steer clear of products containing bleach.
9) Give your body time
If the root of your stress is a trauma, while you may feel fine mentally, your body might not be. Whether it’s an accident, a serious illness or even giving birth, your body needs time to recover from the event. Often, physical problems post-trauma can take some time to manifest and that can often be the case with stress induced hair loss – it happens a number of months after the stressful event or situation. When this happens, it’s vital you take a long-term approach to your health and don’t panic.
10) Visit a Trichologist
It is always a good idea to visit a Trichologist if you are experiencing any form of hair loss, so they can diagnose it correctly and help you identify the cause,
For details of registered trichologists in your area visit The Institute of Trichologists.
Stress-induced hair loss can quickly form a vicious circle. Your anxiety causes your hair to fall out, that makes you even more worried which causes even more hair loss. Trying to reduce your stress levels, while eating correctly, treating your locks kindly and using scientifically proven hair growth solutions should help to restore growth over time.