STRESS-INDUCED HAIR LOSS: Signs, Types, Treatments

by | May 23, 2024

Hair loss is a concern that plagues millions of men and women worldwide and across all ages. Whether it’s a gradual thinning or a sudden noticeable patch, hair loss can be a source of significant emotional distress. 

One of the major culprits behind hair loss? Stress. 

That ever-present monster in our modern lives can wreak havoc on our well-being, and our hair follicles are not immune. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to face this challenge alone. Our blog is dedicated to empowering you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your hair loss journey. 

Overview of Stress-Induced Hair Loss

There are four main ways stress can wreak havoc on your stresses:

  1. Telogen Effluvium: This is the most common stress-related hair loss. When you’re under chronic stress, your body shifts hair follicles from their normal growth phase (anagen) into a resting phase (telogen) prematurely. This results in an increased shedding of hair a few months later. You might notice more hair coming out when brushing or showering, but the good news is telogen effluvium is often temporary. Once the stressor subsides, your hair growth cycle should return to normal.
  2. Trichotillomania: This is a less common but important condition to be aware of. Trichotillomania is a compulsive hair-pulling disorder that can be triggered by stress or emotional distress. People with trichotillomania often pull hair from their scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes, leading to noticeable patches of baldness.
  3. Alopecia Areata: This autoimmune disorder causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, resulting in sudden circular patches of hair loss. While stress isn’t the sole cause of alopecia areata, it can certainly be a trigger for flare-ups in some individuals.
  4. Androgenic Alopecia: While commonly associated with genetic factors, stress can exacerbate this condition. It’s characterised by a gradual thinning of the hair, which can be influenced by hormonal changes that might be linked to stress.

In identifying stress-related hair loss, it’s important to note that increased shedding is the most common symptom. You might notice more hair coming out when brushing, showering, or even just running your hands through your hair. Another symptom of stress-related hair loss is diffuse thinning, which is when there is a general thinning of hair across the scalp while the hairline typically remains intact. Lastly, sudden onset hair loss can also be triggered by prolonged or intense periods of stress.

Self-Assessment and Seeking Professional Help

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consider the timeline of your hair loss. Check if it coincides with a stressful event or period in your life. You can also look for other indicators of stress like fatigue, anxiety, or sleep problems. Additionally, assess whether your excessive hair loss has persisted for more than a few months. Other signs that hair loss warrants medical attention is when the loss is sudden, patchy, or comes with scalp issues like dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis. 

Consulting the right specialist can make all the difference. Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating all kinds of skin, hair, and nail conditions. 

Trichologists are hair and scalp health experts who have undergone specialised training. If your hair loss is accompanied by other skin or scalp concerns or are unsure about its cause, consult a dermatologist. 

Treatment Options for Stress-Related Hair Loss

Hair loss triggered by stress can be a frustrating experience but there are steps you can take to combat this issue. The first thing is to manage your stress levels by identifying your triggers and coming up with appropriate coping mechanisms. Relaxation techniques regulate your cortisol levels and promote hair growth.

In some cases, a dermatologist might prescribe medications like minoxidil (Rogaine) to stimulate hair growth or finasteride (Propecia) to block a hormone that contributes to male pattern baldness. Certain shampoos and conditioners containing ingredients like ketoconazole or saw palmetto might be recommended by a trichologist to improve scalp health and promote hair growth.

In keeping with a holistic approach, it is also recommended that you nourish your body from the inside out by eating a balanced diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Along with getting enough and quality sleep, regular physical activity also helps manage stress and improve circulation to the scalp. 

The Takeaway 

Stress-induced hair loss is a treatable concern. Ignoring it can lead to frustration and potentially worsen the problem. By acknowledging the signs and seeking professional advice early on, you can take control and achieve healthy hair growth again. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your doctor’s visit:

  • Gather information: Track your hair loss for a few weeks. Note the amount of hair coming out when showering, combing, or styling. Look for patterns like diffuse thinning or patchy baldness. Also, reflect on your stress levels and make note of your typical diet, sleep patterns, and exercise routine.
  • Look back in history: Compile a list of any medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter supplements. Past medical conditions might also be relevant.
  • Write down your questions: Do you have specific concerns regarding treatment options, hair restoration procedures, or potential underlying causes? Write them down so you don’t forget and feel free to ask your doctor about all these. They’re there to help.
  • Prepare for examination: Your doctor will likely examine your scalp, looking for any sign of inflammation, scaling, or other abnormalities. In some cases, your doctor might also recommend blood tests to check for nutrient deficiencies or underlying medical conditions. In rare cases, a scalp biopsy might also be required.

Hair loss is often a multifactorial issue. By prioritising both your mental and physical well-being, you can combat stress-induced hair loss and promote healthy hair growth for a crowning glory you can be proud of.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey—with a proactive approach and professional guidance, you can manage stress-related hair loss and achieve a head full of confidence. Dr. Tyng Tan, a leading hair restoration specialist in Singapore, can help! Please book a consultation with us today and explore solutions to achieve your desired results.

Dr. Tan Tyng Yuan
BSc (Hons), MBBS (London), Grad. Dip. Dermatology (UK), Dip. AAAM (USA), Grad. Fellow in ISHRS (International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery)

About Dr Tyng Tan

Dr Tyng Tan has over ten years of experience treating male pattern baldness with the minimally invasive, non-strip method known as FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) Hair Transplantation.

no shave fue hair transplant sidebar square image

Hair loss seems like a losing battle for thousands of men in Singapore. Grow Your Hair Back To Normal With Our Safe & Minor Surgical Hair Transplant Procedure.