stress and hair loss
Hair Conditions

How Stress Can Lead to Hair Loss and What to do About It

As we grow from childhood to adulthood, to old age, we all have different experiences. Some experiences can cause stress that can affect everything from our internal health and even our hair.

When I was 10, I remember going through a stressful situation. I was fighting with one of my friends at school, and being the young girl I was, I was unsure of how to handle it. So, as a coping mechanism, because I didn’t want to get any adults involved, I would mess around with my hair. I didn’t do anything extreme such as pull it out, but I recall experimenting with it often as a way to make me feel better about the situations I was undergoing.

At first, I thought I was alone in my hair fiddling; I assumed that I was the only one that resorted to hair when dealing with stressful situations. However, as I grew older, and began to interact with more people, I did some research of my own. I found that stress is related to hair in a variety of ways, especially hair growth.

shedding hair on comb

Various Causes of Hair Loss

Stress and hair growth relate in ways that you wouldn’t expect. If you’ve found your hair going through some unusual changes, it may be time to analyze whether you’re going through some stress in your life.

Have you noticed that more of your hair is shedding as you maintain it? Has your scalp recently become very itchy and dry? Have you felt the need to visit a dermatologist due to some newly found symptoms that are affecting your hair? There are so many different ways that stress can affect hair, and we’re about to give you the inside scoop.

hair loss

Stress

When people think of stress and hair, their thoughts often lead them straight to hair loss. Typically hair loss is one of the key identifiers that stress is messing with your style.

An acute psychological or physical stress such as a significant injury, death in the family, the birth of a new child, or a divorce can cause powerful effects on the body. Stress from events like this can cause hair to fall out in chunks potentially.

Minor issues such as starting new medications, or starting a new diet, can cause your hair to shed, and harm your hair growth journey. It’s always suggested to visit a doctor before making any significant dietary changes.

If you’ve ever experienced your hair falling out in clumps, you’re not alone. This is a temporary condition called telogen effluvium. This stage usually begins around the time of the trauma and causes hair growth to halt, and shift to the resting phase suddenly.

As ordinary human beings, we all experience shedding. In fact, we usually lose about 100 hairs per day. Given the amount of hair we have, that’s not too much to fret over. However, when experiencing this condition that affects hair growth, our standard shedding rate can double or even triple, depending on the stress we’re experiencing.

Telogen Effluvium can last two to six months, and with hair growth, your hair may take up to 18 months to completely grow back. If you’re dealing with this condition, which is temporary and only heightens within stressful circumstances, you’ll need to learn useful ways to combat it.

How To Combat It

The first step is to manage the stress in your life. Any additional burden will only push your recovery time and cause you to lose more hair. If its possible, try to remove all stressors from your life. Typically during high-stress periods of life, we’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency as well. Make sure that you take your needed vitamins, visit your doctor, and do your best to be as healthy as possible.

During this period of hair loss, avoid heavy hair products as they can weigh your hair down, and cause it to be thinner. Be gentle when caring for your hair during this time to avoid losing more hair, and most importantly, be patient with your hair and yourself. We all suffer from stress, but as long as we take care of ourselves as we go through the motions, we can manage it and experience hair growth more efficiently.

vitamins

Dry, Itchy Scalp

Believe it or not, a dry, itchy scalp can be a symptom of stress and can affect your hair growth more than you think. Pressure can increase the production of certain hormones which will then release pro-inflammatory chemicals that can influence the outer layer of your scalp. The function of this thickness is to lock in moisture so that your hair can continue to grow and flourish.

When we stress, this segment of your scalp doesn’t function as well, causing moisture to escape and create dry, itchy hair and scalp that will result in decreased hair growth! Oh No!

If you’re experiencing these symptoms of stress, don’t worry because it won’t be difficult to fix. To get back to a healthy moisturized scalp, you’ll first need to remove all stressors from your life. As always, the more we stress, the worse the symptoms get, and if you care about your hair like I care about mine, we can’t afford to let the stress take over.

Try your best to be healthy. Drink water, exercise, be intentional about meditating if that’s something that helps you. While dealing with these symptoms, it’s important to wash your hair less frequently. Doing this will allow the natural oils to build up in your hair and keep your scalp moisturized. When you do wash your hair, try to use gentle products such as those made for people with sensitive skin.

Make sure you use fragrance-free products that won’t irritate your scalp and cause it to be even itchier. Always use a conditioner because this will replenish and hydrate your scalp. If you want to take the extra step, use a hot oil treatment; this will lock in moisture and get your hair back to growing at its average rate.

dandruff

Scalp Conditions that Effect Hair Growth

There are a variety of different scalp conditions that can affect hair growth. The most common ones are eczema, psoriasis, and alopecia. These conditions differ in symptoms, but they all have one similar aspect. Stress can trigger all of these conditions.

Eczema & Psoriasis

Eczema is a common skin condition that can flare up during stressful moments. It’s a different experience for each person, but inflammation usually shows up as a red, itchy, scaly rash. Psoriasis showcases symptoms of hardened plaque with a scale that can itch and flake. Psoriasis and eczema are both hereditary conditions but can also show up due to stress. They affect hair growth by increasing dryness within the scalp.

Alopecia

Alopecia causes hair follicles to deplete and hair to fall out. It is an autoimmune disease that is also hereditary but can be triggered by stress. Typically, the first indications of alopecia begin around the scalp, starting at the edges. You may hear people advise to take care of your sides because they are fragile, and become even more fragile as we deal with stress.

With any of these conditions, stress can cause them to worsen, and halt hair growth until the flares have lessened in frequency. If you’re suffering from any of these issues, it’s essential to visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can determine the best regimen for your unique experience and get you on the right track to hair growth.

Your dermatologist will give you the same advice about stress that I have. Manage it as best as you can, and stick to whatever regimen that your dermatologist offers to control your symptoms.

hair conditioner

Ways To Increase Hair Growth

Even if you’re going through a stressful time in life, there are ways to curb that and still promote hair growth in your life. Always remember that hair growth takes time, and the remaining patient during your journey is essential. With that being said, here are some ways to increase hair growth.

Conditioner

Every-time that you wash your hair use a conditioner. Conditioners assist in replacing lipids and proteins within your hair and prevent more damage from occurring.

Don’t Over Shampoo

Don’t shampoo every time you shower. Washing your hair with shampoo too often can cause your scalp to lose its natural oils, and strip your hair of its moisture.

Take Hair Vitamins

If you haven’t tried using hair supplements, you might want to try incorporating some into your diet. Eating healthy foods will increase the benefits of the supplements as well! Also, just to make sure you’re not interfering with any medications you may already be taking, make sure that you check in with your doctor first.

Trim

One of the primary methods to growing healthy hair is to trim it often. I remember being a child obsessed with how long my hair could grow and I hated the idea of using scissors. I later learn that cutting is actually beneficial for my hair.

For typical styles, it’s vital that you get a trim every 10-12 weeks to prevent split ends which will ultimately block hair growth.

hair cut trim

Don’t Brush Too Often of Too Hard

Another tip for increasing hair growth, and combatting stress, is never to brush your hair too often. Brushing too harshly can cause harm to your strands.

If you’re cleaning your hair with the intention of detangling, it’s best to do so when your hair is wet. When your hair is wet, it’s much easier to detangle your hair, mainly when you work from the bottom to the top rather than from the scalp to the ends.

Rinse With Cold Water

Doing a cold-water rinse at the end of each shower has been said to increase hair growth. It will help keep your hair healthy for longer. By doing so, you’re laying down the layers of your hair, which will help keep the moisture in as you move through your day.

Avoid Coloring Hair

Get rid of the dye. If you want your hair to grow, there’s often no way to avoid stress, but of the things you can prevent, coloring your hair should be one of them. Hair color has been proven to have harsh chemicals which can damage hair follicles.

Avoid Wrapping Your Hair

Another tip that most people aren’t aware of is that wrapping your hair in a large towel can be so incredibly harmful to your hair. It can cause breakage by pulling hair that is packed too tightly in a cloth.

Use A Silk Pillowcase

During this journey to healthier, longer hair, it’s important never to use cotton pillowcases. Silk pillowcases will save you from breakage that can reverse the hair growth process.

silk pillow case

What To Remember

Hopefully, by now, you’ve gained some insight on how to manage your hair during a stressful period. Never forget that you’re not alone if you’re suffering from symptoms of stress that are messing with your lovely locks. Make sure to that you prepare yourself for the journey needed to get back to your healthy roots.

Stress is unavoidable at times, but remember that meditation, healthy diets, and outstanding hair-care regimens will help you through it. Stress and hair growth can have a variety of symptoms from hair loss, to the dry and itchy scalp to scalp conditions which can all affect the rate your hair grows.

If you’d like to curb these effects, it’s not difficult to find ways. Not shampooing too often, conditioning much more frequently, letting go of the dye, and throwing away those pro-breakage cotton pillowcases can help ease the effects of stress.

healthy hair

You Are Not Alone

If you’ve ever suffered from any of these conditions that affect hair growth, know that you’re not alone. There are multiple events in life that can cause stress. From college, to working, to directly dealing with other people, we’ve all been involved in some situation that caused us to be anxious.

Fortunately, considering that we’re not alone, it’s easier to manage these conditions when we have support, and here at Private Label Extensions, we always support you!

Be patient with yourself, as always. Don’t judge yourself for having hair issues. Always remember that many people are willing to help you through this journey.

Have you experience significant hair loss or growth? What has been your experience? Share your story with us in a comment below. Also share this article with anyone you know that could be experiencing hair loss.

About Simi Muhumuza

Simi is an undergraduate student at GSU. She is studying psychology, and is an avid black mental health advocate. She is also a poet, and is working on a book that will be released next year. She DJ’s on her spare time, and can be reached on all social outlets as @simimoonlight.

23 thoughts on “How Stress Can Lead to Hair Loss and What to do About It

  1. Raquellwashington says:

    These are really great tips. I used to have a hard time with dandruff but I started oiling my scalp with Wild Growth and it really helped. Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay with products that really work for my hair because after a while my hair get’s used to the product and I have to find something new. I also learned that stressing out when your has is bleached can have horrible results.

  2. Tarsha Howard says:

    Stress is a huge factor in hair loss. Childbirth as well. I am working with a few herbs at the moment that may help the issue of hair loss. I hope to bring it to market to help other women. What I learn is hair is an expression of our emotions. If we are stressed out, our hair will feel it and start to take on the emotions and then from the root, begin to shed.

    1. Private Label Extensions says:

      This is a major problem for men and women altogether. Stress can cause many problems and must be monitored by other means necessary. You make a great point!

  3. Ronesha says:

    I wanted to tell my story about how stress can cause hair loss. When I was 16 years old I already had a one-year-old daughter and a very abusive baby father which he was about 5 years older than I was, my parents didn’t know that, well throughout that relationship I dropped from a size 12 to a size 6. My hair started to shed like crazy and big patches of my hair began to fall out. At age 18 I had to wear wigs because I had no edges. But after a stressful 6 years in that relationship, I packed my bags and I finally left. We have been broken up for 4 years I’ve gotten married and couldn’t be happier. With the help of braids and a great beautician, I am proud to say that my hair has grown back slowly but surely.
    I just wanted to tell a few ladies that when stress starts to affect your appearance it’s time to eliminate that stress and remove all negativity from your life….

  4. Christal Peacock says:

    So far this is probably my favorite article simply because for years I suffered from alopecia areata, this is where hair loss happens in just one spot. I tried numerous products & regimens and nothing seemed to work. About 2 years ago, I began to see a fertility specialist & realized my hair loss could have come from my hormones being imbalanced. I figured this was true because I’ve always taken great care of my hair. I began to try different vitamins to not only help my body but my hair as well. The vitamins that worked best for me were prenatal vitamins. I also would use Doo Gro medicated hair vitalizer on my scalp a few days a week & suddenly my hair started growing. I made sure I drank more water to keep my body & skin hydrated. When shampooing my hair I made sure to massage my scalp really good,
    I trimmed my ends regularly (probably once a month ) I made sure I wasn’t using too much tension on my hair. I noticed the shedding (wasn’t too much ) stopped & my hair continues to grow 😊

  5. Melissa Brown says:

    I really enjoyed this article as stress is sometimes my worst enemy lol. I have always had to be careful with what I put on my hair and who I allowed to do my hair! I can’t really explain why my hair is so crazy, but it has times when it grows just fine, and then it will start shedding and breaking off. I say stress is my enemy because, I feel like I am under stress a lot after going back to college, and then once I was finished I couldn’t find a job right off! I am now trying to get my new business off and running which is nothing but stress! I have found that when I read some of these articles, or chat with some of my group members that I find a calm and it takes the stress away! For my hair, I have been taking better care of it by not putting a lot of heat on it or to much tension on my hair! I also have been taking biotin and my hair has been doing so much better! I learned something from this article that wearing a large towel on your hair can cause hair loss as well ( never knew that). I must say that there was a lot of helpful information in this article. I have read a lot of you all’s blogs even if I didn’t reply to them all. Thanks 🙂

  6. Pamela Parker says:

    This article was excellent. Loosing your hair or thinning is a traumatic time and we think its’ everything else but stress. I learned the hard way by becoming a caregiver for my mom. I thought I was handling things and doing well but noticed my hair getting thinner and thinner. I initially attributed it to not eating like I should, the hairstyle I was wearing ( which of course could have contributed ) ultimately nothing I did help until I eliminated some of the stress by enlisting more help at home. That when protective styles came in handy. I also agree with supplements, the hair vitamins specifically.

  7. Kenyatta says:

    Postpartum was causing me to lose my hair line and it freaked me out. I’m sure that added lots of stress but I’m taking an herb called Dong Quai and it is helping balance my hormones now I’m losing normal hair! Thank goodness for herbs !

  8. Lakisha Bush says:

    This blog was very interesting as it gave pointers I knew nothing about and pointers on what not to do with your hair that I have been blindly doing my whole life. I think I will take the tips of this blog and put them to use for my hair so I may see the change and growth. You guys are awesome. Thanks!

  9. L Willis says:

    Wow, I’ve always had issues with the middle of my head when I get stressed out. Using some of these methods over the years have improved my hair greatly. Natural hot oil treatments, and less shampooing with more deep conditioning works wonders!

  10. Hannah Walter- Sanders says:

    In the cosmetology industry, I have run into many what I call stress factor clients that have experienced hair loss. Some more extreme than others whether it be through stress or medical hair loss is hair loss. I call my salon my alter! While servicing my clients, I allow them to come in and express themselves to me as a stress reliever for them. This is a strategy I use for them to release the stress and escape away from it all. They leave out with another perception and strategy on handling what they will face outside of the salon. Just as the article stated, I advise them to Drink water, exercise, be intentional about meditating. Most time that’s something that helps them extremely. When I notice hair loss, I advise them to come every 2 weeks for 3 months for treatments. It’s important to treat the dry scalp and itching issue. So with their shampoo, I offer deep conditioning treatments, protein treatments, and depending on dryness I mix an oil with it. Some clients have natural oils that build up in their hair and keep their scalp moisturized. Therefore they may not need the oil added to their treatment. There have not been one client that haven’t experienced hair growth after treatment is over. Most times because of hair growth results, they decide to continue on with treatments. Stress is one of the most horrible ways of losing hair. Relax and change your perception of your situation, It’s the best escape strategy ever. What you are in, you may not be out of it, but shift to your escape route so you can live through it

  11. Nakisha says:

    This was very good advice. Wich, I knew stress is a big factor that plays with your hair but one thing I learned was about dry, itchy scalp. Would never that that will be under stress. Very good information.

  12. Tyqual says:

    Stress can cause hair loss I am a witness! I started stressing about unnecessary things and end up Hair started falling out like crazy and I didn’t know where it was coming from. I thought my hair was damaged but In reality, it was me causing it due to stress. I stop stressing my hair stop falling out.

  13. Rashida Gray says:

    This article was great! I remember when I was younger my aunt always told me to stop pulling my hair up into a high ponytail because I was pulling my hair out! And I never understood what she meant! But the older I got I learned that pulling my hair up and always brushing it in the same directions was pulling my hair and I ended up with a bald spot on the side of my head! And more I’ve learned about hair and using a lot of chemicals will damage your hair! Never would’ve known about shampooing your hair too much will also strip it of the natural oils! But I do know is a woman of color we can not wash our hair every day because it will take all the oils out our hair! This article has taught me so much that I didn’t know! I will definitely use the techniques this article has taught me!

  14. Corinne McCullough says:

    I love this article! As a licensed hairstylist with a hair extensions business, I think it’s important to open up the floor for discussion about the many types of hair loss. I recently learned that hormonal imbalance post pregnancy or due to birth control effected more women than I realized. We can rebalance our hormones with the food we eat.

  15. Daychell Bridges says:

    This topic was on point! Being a licensed massage therapist for 14 years and current spa owner I am going back into the hair industry to help educate people about ways to relieve stress. It causes just over 80% of the diseases we accumulate in the world today. The first thing we do is start worrying, stop eating and stop sleeping. These are the top things we need not do. I just was added to this inspirational group and started reading their blogs and listening to the posts and thank God as I do believe I am following my calling. We need to find ways to balance our life, exhale and stop Worrying about things that are out of our control. Leave it to God! As I become a hair distributor (Gods will) I shall open a storefront and help aid people with hair loss issues. This is a big goal I have as all the women in my family suffer from many different forms of alopecia or just hit loss from stress.

  16. Arielle says:

    As a stylist, I see hair loss on an everyday basis so far the youngest was 3 all from various issues. The basics I usually go over are to hydrate yourself, make sure you’re taking vitamins and nourishing yourself from the inside out and to reduce the stress they put on their actual hair. In many of these cases, we go into protective styling and a hair rejuvenation plan.

  17. Takeala Lewis says:

    I was about 19 when it happened. Got up and normal to get ready for work when I got in the shower and shampooed my hair as I normally do I started noticing more strings than normal coming out pay it no mind out the shower and I’m blowing my hair out I’m saying more strings blondes drinks so mine do I have to go to work so I’m not really paying you no mind like I understand you know your hair falls out from time to time and stuff like that so a few days go past and I started to notice that my blonde is getting shorter and shorter and shorter mind you I have been coloring my hair blonde with a box metallic dye or maybe about 2 years now not knowing about the dangers of the metallic dyes and the over-processing but anyways so a couple days go by and I’m noticing it tomorrow it’s getting shorter and shorter and I’m like no dude I look real good with this like what’s going on until one day I’m coming my hair about to go out and how they come and I’m talking about my hair not strengths and chunks that’s patchy rough patch there Apache rough patch there and I’m like what’s going on so it goes from being maybe mid back to about shoulder length and maybe a year-and-a-half and then I don’t know where it goes from shoulder length to the bottom of my earlobe at that moment I knew then it was time to cut it off so I made the big chop made it a passion of Mines to figure out what can I do to my hair to keep it healthy long story short made the big chop when I made the big chop that’s when I got some news that changed my life forever so I’m stressing about all this stuff stuff I have in my life and I’m walking around looking like a dirty tennis ball for like six whole months like 6 months my hair didn’t grow at night at all my hair was so short and had to figure out what was going on why what’s going on why can’t find out why my hair will it grow back long then I realize the fact that I’m stressing is one reason why it’s not growing back the fact that I’m using certain shampoos and conditioners and products that after two big chop stew kids in a 4 year relationship I finally have my growing.

  18. Chevyree Akridge says:

    This one hits home for me. my daughter who now is 17 had gotten pregnant at 15 and tried to keep it a secret, the stress that was causing her among other things caused her hair to break off tremendously, it was like her edges disappeared and her hair was just horrible. It took us a while to figure out why her hair was going through those changes and when she learned everything was going to be ok, she could relax a little she got a little bit of length back but her edges are still damaged pretty bad. We tried to use things like wild hair growth and taking vitamins which I think have helped some, but now I try to take some of the stress off of her and allow her to still be a young lady.. but stress is America’s number one killer… not only will it take your hair out but it will kill you slowly and surely, the tips in this article were great and I think this subject should be speaking on more often than it is.

  19. Ha Lo says:

    I’m glad I came across this article. I have been noticing that I have been losing an abundance amount of hair while showering and during my daily brushing… I’m very sure it is stress that is causing this. Even though I lose a lot of hair, already, this is actually a ridiculously large amount. I’ve also notice that I have dry scalp too, coincidently… I’ve had the same symptoms with all 3 of my children and I am definitely sure that I’m not with child now. Working 45 hours a week, single mom and starting business, well, is kind of stressing me out a bit. So, I’ll definitely will be trying these hair tips out. Thanks a bunches!

  20. Shonte Perry says:

    This article relates to me in so many ways. I recently have learned how to manage my stress while managing my eczema symptoms. Both of which can lead to hair loss. I blamed several factors but never realized that I was doing harm to myself. I shifted focus from the external to internal. I started with hair vitamins, exercise, and healthy eating. Along with the proper hair care techniques. Now, my hair has grown so much I can’t do anything with it so I get cornrows and inches and I am stress-free and slaying💕😆 Great read.

  21. Candace Davis says:

    This article really hit Home for me. I was diagnosed with alopecia about 4 yrs ago, after noticing a bald spot forming at the top of my head. It was a very emotional time for me because while my hair has always been thin, I didn’t have to rely on weaves/wigs, but this was soon about to change. I take hair supplements which helps maintain the hair I haven’t lost yet and I maintain a natural regimen when taking care of my natural hair. I’m so happy at the many advanced in the Hair world that help women like me with this condition.

  22. Je'Neice Perkins says:

    Great post,

    Stress-related hair loss is not only caused by internal but external factors as well. I had to learn my hair type and what products were appropriate for hair. I have psoriasis and many of the products I was using were great for my hair but did nothing for scalp or great for my scalp but did nothing for my hair. It is also important to know when its time to seek professional help (dermatologist or stylist) for hair loss because trying to treat it yourself can cause what was temporary hair loss to become permanent hair loss due to scalp and follicle damage.

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