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2020 Guide | Stress and Hair Loss

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

Shedding hair is a part of our life. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, it’s normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. We shed hair everywhere: In the showers, when we are sleeping, during work or when we run our hand through our hair. However, what happen if we shed beyond the numbers? And what happen if the cause of the shedding comes from stress?

In this guide, we introduce the types of stress-related hair loss to you.

1. Telogen Effluvium (excessive daily hair shedding)

The human hair growth cycle is made up of several phases: Anagen (the growth phase), Catagen (the transition phase) and Telogen (resting phase). Telogen Effluvium is a scalp disorder characterized by the thinning or shedding of hair resulting from the early entry of hair in the telogen phase (aka the resting phase of the hair follicle). Significant amount of stress affects the adrenal glands production of the hormone, cortisol and cortisone signals our hair follicles to shift from the growth phase into the resting phase, where large amount of hair is shed before the time is due. In fact, a study by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology states that as many as 70% of the scalp hair can be shed in the a period of 2 months when faced with an sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience.

2. Alopecia Areata (hair loss in areas)

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks the body own’s cell. In this case, the hair follicles. In majority of the cases, circular patches of hair fall out in the size of a coin. In extreme cases, this disorder can lead to complete loss of hair on scalp or the entire body. While little is known about this disease, many believed that stress plays an important role in triggering this.

3. Trichotillomania (hair pulling)

A metal disorder, Trichotillomania is classified under Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders as an irresistible urge to pull out your hair from your scalp or any part of your body despite repeated attempt to stop. Like Alopecia Areata, the effect of hair pulling is evident from the patches of bald spots in the scalp. For many, severely stressful situations or events may trigger trichotillomania as they seek for relief through this method.

4. Androgenic Alopecia (hair thinning).

Androgenic alopecia is a common genetic condition that can affect both genders. In male-pattern hair loss, the hair loss often presents itself as a receding hairline, while in female-pattern hair loss, it typically presents as a thinning of the hair.  The gene convert testosterone is to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via 5α-reductase which then binds to androgen receptors in the hair follicle, shortening the anagen phase and simultaneous prolonging the telogen phase. Combined with hair follicle miniaturization, a process in which hairs shrink in size over time, symptoms of hair thinning and loss result starts to appear from a gradual reduction in hair diameter and the scalp becomes more prominent.

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