Updated: Aug 25
Many are well-aware of the profound impact high levels of stress can have on both mental and physical health, but what is less widely known is the damage that it can do to our hair and scalp.
It’s important to realize that as hair is non-essential tissue, it is one of the most sensitive barometers to physiological and psychological health, and therefore to stress.
When it comes to hair loss due to stress, internal inflammation is what we are dealing with, and that is what we have to reduce.
3 main markers that cause hair loss internally:
These are known to cause inflammation that affects our hair growth. They throw us out of the anagen phase (the active phase of the hair growth cycle that precedes catagen and telogen) and put us in telogen (the resting stage of your hair growth cycle) for longer. The hair strands remain in their follicles but are not actively growing during the Talogen phase.. An estimate of 10-15% of our hair are in the Telogen Phase at any given moment and normally the phase would last for Approximately 3 months or 100 days. Therefore, an extended period of Talogen means we cannot grow and maintain our hair as it is in a fall-out phase for longer.
When should we start getting worried?
Due to the nature of the hair growth cycle, the effects of stress will not be noticeable on your hair until 6-12 weeks later, so people do not always connect the two events. However, stress can impact the scalp much faster. In all cases of hair and/or scalp issues, treatment should be holistic and involve using the right products and making relevant changes to diet and lifestyle – and this commonly and increasingly involves targeting stress.
Read this also: 7 tips to get rid of itchy scalp for women with curly hair
The effects of stress on our hair/scalp health
Effects of stress on Scalp:
Stress commonly triggers and/or worsens flaking and itching of the scalp – especially if you are already prone to dandruff. This is because stress can affect hormone levels, and this in turn may disrupt the micro-flora of the scalp. Flaking can cause hair loss, and scratching may result in further irritation and even abrade the surface of your scalp, so it’s important to tackle it ASAP
Set aside time each day to clear your mind : take a walk at lunch, listen to soothing music, start reading again, have a carefree day a week (go to the park or ground self).
If you find yourself reaching for creamy, comfort foods, like cheese and cream, try substituting with a healthy alternative. Full fat dairy products, as well as white wine and champagne, can make dandruff worse.
The relation between stress and oily scalp
Stress can cause increases androgen levels an over stimulate sebaceous glands which leads to increase sebaceous oil. This usually happens on the scalp, on your face, and possible in your armpits and private area as well.
For your scalp try Loving You pH balancing shampoo. You may have to increase the amount of wash days per week for a period of time until this issue is under control.
If you’re already going to the gym, take that as an opportunity to remove toxins and oily build up from your scalp by sweating and then cleansing the scalp.
Apply your shampoo to dry hair to loosen up debris and help pH balance your scalp.
Conditions that impact hair loss
1. Telogen effluvium: In telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um), significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
2. Trichotillomania: Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.
3. Alopecia areata: A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles — causing hair loss.
Any number of stressful situations can trigger hair loss, including pregnancy, chronic illness, injury, relationship issues, financial concerns, poor nutrition, surgery, medications such as antidepressants, and even jet lag.
How to treat hair loss due to 5-alpha reductase, PGD2, and DHT naturally?
Pumpkin seed oil is an excellent solution for hair loss that can be ingested and applied topically. It is known to be 40% more effective in increasing hair growth for women. Pumpkin seed oil is often compared to minoxidil as far as its effectiveness is concerned. Studies show how effective it has been for hair loss and the inflammatory process people are having due to stress.
DHT Blockers are a by-product of testosterone. So dehydrogenase testosterone forms as a by-product of testosterone in people prone to hair loss or people with androgenic alopecia or hereditary hair loss. Therefore, you need to take something to block this by-product from causing issues with your hair growth. Since DHT is known to cause the follicles to shut off the production of hair, you must make sure that you have a DHT Blocker on board to stop that cascade from happening.
PGD2 is a prostaglandin that has quite a few effects on our bodies. It causes bronchial constrictions and asthma and also plays a role in our allergic response to eczema, increasing internal inflammation and inhibiting hair growth.
Castor oil is excellent for inhibiting PGD2 when taken both internally and applied externally. So the thing about PGD2 is that it's not just stopping hair production but also leads to the calcification of follicles if PGD2 levels are high enough. So we have to prevent this from happening.
It is important to remember here that Castor oil is heavy in consistency and, when applied topically in excess, can block the follicles. Apply it as a carrier with herbs like Fox Glove and wash off the treatment after 20 mins or after keeping it overnight.
Tips to Counteract stress:
Learn and practice relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga) regularly
Get regular exercise, which helps manage stress and its effects
Spend time with positive people — isolating yourself can make stress worse
Seek professional help from a therapist
Eat a healthy diet
Supplement if needed with a customized nutritional supplement that is recommended by your Practitioner.
Treat your hair with care when washing, drying, and styling it
Massage your scalp 2-3 x/ week to increase circulation
Aesthetics procedures such as PRP may be added on to increase results, scalp health, and health of hair produced.
About The Author: Paula Bland
The founder of TLP, Paula Bland, is a medically qualified Nurse Practitioner, Hair aesthetician and also a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner known for her highly effective hair consultation. Paula has a non-traditional approach to hair care and advocates a chemical-free, natural, and holistic approach. The Love of People is her brainchild, and its products reflect her approach to hair health and have helped women with naturally curly hair manage their curls in a chemical-free and organic way.