Can stress cause hair loss?

Presse Santé

High level of stress can lead to different types of hair loss. It can stop hair regeneration, cause the immune system to attack hair follicles, or cause an involuntary attempt to pull out your hair. The man usually loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day. Hair loss is not always due to stress, but people can lose more hair especially under extreme stress.

This article answers the question of whether stress can cause hair loss, what are the different types of stress-related hair loss, and what can people do to manage stress-related hair loss.

Does stress cause hair loss?

There is a well-established link between stress and hair loss. Hair loss results from several factors, including environment and genetics. While acute stress boosts the immune system, chronic stress suppresses and overactivates the immune system, leading to inflammation. Persistent, chronic stress can cause inflammation in or around the follicle, which can disrupt its processes through endocrine and neuroimmune mediators such as cortisol and corticotropin-releasing hormones.

Hair growth occurs in three stages:

Anagen: the active phase where hair grows from the follicles.
Catagen: the stage involving the death or shrinkage (apoptosis) of the follicle at the base of the hair shaft.
Telogen: the resting period during which the hair follicle is at rest and the hair shaft does not grow. At this stage, the stem cells are dry and the hair falls out more easily.

The cells in the hair follicles are at the origin of the hair cycle.

A 2021 study on mice showed that removing the adrenal glands, which produce key stress hormones in mice and humans, led to cycles of accelerated hair regeneration. Subjecting mice to mild stress for weeks resulted in increased levels of stress hormones (corticosterone) and decreased hair growth. The hair follicles are also in a long resting period (telogen). In addition, corticosterone also prevents the group of cells (dermal papilla) below the cells below to release a molecule that causes the hair cells to produce.

Types of stress-related hair loss

Three types of stress-related hair loss are associated with various levels of stress.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is the excessive loss of resting (telogen) hair. In a typical human scalp, 85% of the hair is anagen, while 15% is telogen. Certain stresses cause 70% of the anagen hair to move to the telogen phase, which leads to hair loss. Telogen effluvium or excessive hair loss is common in people who are under a lot of stress. The most common stressors are:

excessive weight loss
major stresses in life, such as job loss, divorce, death
high fever
to recover from illness
stopping birth control pills
Other factors include:

program system
special surgery
inadequate nutrition
This moult usually occurs three months after stress. It is usually self-limiting and lasts about six months. Chronic telogen effluvium lasts longer than six months.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune system that attacks hair follicles in the anagen phase, causing them to enter the catagen phase. As long as the cells of the follicles are not destroyed, the hair follicles continue to regenerate and continue their cycle. Clinically, the disease appears as small bald patches on the scalp or around the body and can lead to complete loss of scalp or body hair. Environmental factors play an important role in its development. Some also consider stressful life events to be important factors for the disease. There is some evidence that genetic factors may also play a role in the development of alopecia areata.


Trichotillomania, or hair pulling disorder, is a hair pulling disorder on any part of the body. This disorder is part of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). A person with trichotillomania uses their hands, tweezers, or other devices to pull out their hair. The exact cause of trichotillomania is unknown, but many people report the onset of a stressful event before the hair pulling behavior. It can be a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety.

Treatment of stress-related hair loss

Treatment for stress-related hair loss depends on the type of hair loss a person is suffering from.


The health care team can use several treatment strategies to help manage trichotillomania. In children, conservative measures such as wearing gloves or socks to cover the hands and cutting their hair short may help. Behavioral change training, based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), helps people to identify cognitive distortions and abnormal behavior associated with them (hair loss) in order to change them.

Tips for stress management

A number of stress management techniques can help people cope with stress, including:

type of rhythmic breathing: heart rhythm
picture guide
advanced muscle relaxation

Below are some other stress management tips that can help reduce stress and reduce the likelihood of stress-induced hair loss:

eat a balanced diet
sleep enough and well
Avoid using tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
take time to do fun activities
communicating worries and concerns to other people
try to meditate or spend time in nature
seek professional help if necessary.

Other causes of hair loss

There are many other potential causes of hair loss. Here are a few

hereditary hair loss
cancer treatment
damaged hair treatments
some hairstyles
hormonal imbalance due to conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
scalp infection
scalp psoriasis
sexually transmitted infection (STI)
thyroid disease
nutritional deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin D.

Here are some frequently asked questions about hair loss.

Will stress-related hair loss grow back?

Stress-related hair loss, called telogen effluvium, tends to be self-limiting and goes away when the cause is treated or eliminated.

What does hormonal hair loss look like?

Hair may appear thin or thin. They can also fall easily and grow more slowly than before.

What does problematic hair loss look like?

Stress-induced hair loss, or telogen effluvium, is characterized by hair that falls out quickly when brushed, washed, or even touched. The scalp hair may be thin, but your hair looks healthy and does not have dandruff or rashes.


Hair loss can be caused by many factors, including stress. There are several types of stress-related hair loss. Their results can range from short-term, spontaneous hair loss to permanent, irreversible hair loss. It is important to identify the cause of hair loss and seek appropriate treatment. Treatment depends on the cause and may include lifestyle changes, medications, topical treatments, and immunotherapy. Stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, can also help manage stress and reduce the risk of hair loss.

* blokus strives to spread health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT, THE INFORMATION GIVEN CANNOT REPLACE THE OPINION OF A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
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