Everyone knows that stress has negative effects on us, both physical and mental and there is much discussion nowadays about how they manifest themselves; for example, in panic attacks, insomnia or loss of appetite. The problem of hair loss in response to stress, however, is less often aired, which is unfortunate, because when it happens, particularly to women, it serves to increase stress levels even further, leading to significant changes in appearance and anxiety, depression and social phobia. On a positive note, there are several solutions that can help to restore hair in these difficult circumstances, assuming the condition has been correctly diagnosed.
Types of hair loss
Excessive emotional or physical stress, such as that associated with surgery, illness or injury, can cause hair loss. There are two main types:
- Telogen effluvium is the more common of the two and is relatively mild. Put simply, hair stops growing and remains dormant and then two or three months later it falls out. In most cases the hair will regrow within six to nine months.
- Alopecia areata is more severe and involves an attack on the hair follicles by white blood cells. Again, the hair falls out, usually in patches, within weeks; however this condition can involve not only the entire scalp, but also other body hair. While there is a possibility that hair may regrow, specialist treatment may often be required.
Alopecia areata normally involves circular areas of hair loss on the scalp. If the hair is in small patches that are spread more generally over the entire scalp, the condition is called diffuse alopecia areata. A single spot of baldness is known as alopecia areata monolocularis, which may appear anywhere on the head. When there are multiple spots of hair loss, the condition is known as alopecia areata multilocularis. When all hair on the scalp is lost it is described as alopecia totalis; however, this is very rare as is alopecia universalis, which is loss of all body hair, including pubic hair. Where the disease affects only the beard, it is known as alopecia areata barbae.
Increased self-consciousness and an accompanying reduction in self-confidence are very common when women experience hair loss, particularly at a young age. Around 50 percent of new mothers lose some hair after childbirth and of course hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy. Treatments available include the topical medication Minoxidil, frequently used in lotions to promote hair growth. There is also the HairMax Laser Comb, which is a device that looks like a hairbrush and provides red light therapy to increase circulation and advance the biological cycle that grows hair. This product is only approved for men in the United States, though it has been reported that some women use it.
In some cases hormonal abnormalities can be responsible for hair loss in women and these can be treated via oral contraceptives or spironolactone, a prescription medication. Hair transplantation can be very effective and usually produces natural looking results, which are permanent.