Fighting Hair, Eyelashes and Eyebrows Loss Caused by Stress
Over the last months, we have been coping with high-stress levels due to the pandemic's health and economic outcomes. Some of them affected us more than others resulting in anxiety or prolonged stress. The effects of stress can go unrecognized or untreated for a while, as some can be visible months later. For example, when stress triggers a hair loss, the shedding will typically occur 2 or 3 months later. This includes your hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. If you feel this applies to you, read our article to determine the hair loss cause, treatment, and prevention methods.
Types of Hair Loss Caused by Stress
Although hair loss can be caused by nutritional deficiency, seasonal changes, or hormonal imbalance, three distinctive hair loss types are caused by stress: Telogen Effluvium, Trichotillomania, and Alopecia Areata. Each of these types has characteristics based on which you can determine your type.
1. Telogen Effluvium
Telogen Effluvium is associated with a temporary hair loss due to some shock to the system that results in excessive shedding of hair in the telogen (resting) phase.
Common triggers include childbirth, severe trauma, a stressful life event, extreme weight loss and dieting, a new medication or withdrawal of hormone treatment (example: Prostaglandin based eyelash serum). The hair telogen phase is the final stage of your hair's lifespan and usually lasts from 2 to 4 months. The average amount of hair in the telogen phase accounts for 15% of all hair.
Excessive shedding while experiencing Telogen Effluvium is visible when brushing your hair as you lose all hair in the telogen stage. Your eyelashes are also short due to losing the longest eyelashes in the final lifespan phase. This type of hair loss does not stop new hair growth initiated in the Anagen phase. Acute Telogen Effluvium can affect people of all age groups and both sexes. The Telogen Effluvium usually lasts 3 to 6 months in most cases.
Some recommended treatments suggest a nutritious diet with plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables, correcting any thyroid function abnormalities or iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid levels.
Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder) is a mental disorder classified under Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. It involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, and other body areas, despite repeated attempts to stop or decrease hair pulling . In some severe cases, a person experiencing anxiety, boredom, stress, or tension can pull out completely eyelashes or eyebrows or have patches on their scalp or eyebrows.
Trichotillomania can also vary on the awareness level. Some people pull their hair to experience relief, while others are automatically engaged in hair pulling while bored or engaged in mindless activities without realizing it.
Image: Example of Trichotillomania (before; left). While using eyebrow enhancing serum (right image).
The hair-pulling disorder is commonly followed by other repetitive behaviours such as lip or nail biting. Trichotillomania can occur in conjunction with a variety of conditions including anxiety, depression, and high-stress levels.
If you feel that you cannot stop pulling your hair on your own, seek professional help.
3. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder that results in unpredictable patched hair loss. In most severe cases, it can lead to full hair loss, including eyelashes and eyebrows. The Alopecia Areata can develop only within a few days resulting in "spotted" baldness.
The condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, though most cases occur before the age of 30. The reason behind sudden hair loss is caused by white blood cells (leukocytes) attacking cells in hair follicles, causing them to shrink and dramatically decrease new hair production.
It is believed that the cause of Alopecia Areata is genetic, with slight evidence of correlation to extreme stress levels.
Currently, there is no cure for Alopecia Areata. Some treatments to induce hair regrowth include using Minoxidil, Anthralin, SADBE, and DPCP.
How To Prevent Hair Loss Caused By Stress
Each type of hair loss caused by stress and identified by the characteristics above can be treated, or preventative methods can be introduced to minimize the hair loss effect, as in Alopecia Areata.
There are several things that you can do to reduce hair loss and encourage new growth:
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet of whole foods rich in vitamins and proteins
- Keeping your body hydrated to fuel your health as every cell in your body relies on the water supply
- Learn how to effectively manage stress and read about the techniques to help you with stress management. If this doesn't help to reduce stress, then seek professional help
- Use proven topical treatments and cosmetics on your hair
- Get down to the root of the problem by identifying symptoms as not every hair loss is caused by stress (example: hormonal imbalance after childbirth)
The Bottom Line
The good news is that the hair loss caused by stress, in most cases, is temporary. Managing a healthy diet, taking control of your stress and using over the counter products will regain your hair and confidence. As stress-related hair loss usually occurs after 2 to 3 months, ensure that the preventive hair loss methods are incorporated into your lifestyle now.
If preventative measures are not working, see your doctor for the diagnosis and recommend treatment for your condition.
 Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichotillomania/symptoms-causes/syc-20355188