Are you experiencing increased anxiety or stress as you navigate long stretches of time at home? Then the possibility of suffering from hair health concerns may be adding to your worries.
Stress can disrupt the cycle of hair growth by prematurely moving an excessive number of shafts into the resting (catagen) stage. Signs that stress has had an effect on hair growth generally become noticeable 3-4 months after the first episode of emotional or physical stress or a traumatic incident. Seeing hairs on your pillow or larger knots than normal in the shower, and hair thinning across the whole head lend themselves to a concern known as Telogen Effluvium. Stress can also trigger flares of psoriasis and scalp eczema. Both concerns if present on the scalp can, unfortunately, have an effect on the condition and growth of hair. Some folk find themselves pulling their hair, seeking relief from stress and anxiety. This disorder is known as Trichotillomania a type of self-harm behaviour which is believed to be impulse controlled!
Seeking help from a trichologist, as soon as you become aware of these or any hair health concern can be extremely helpful. Other hair loss causes can be considered, ruled out and suitable self-management solutions and home use treatments can be discussed and started.
HOW DOES STRESS CAUSE HAIR LOSS?
Stress causes a cascade of excess hormones that increase blood sugar levels
High blood sugar levels in the bloodstream prevent the circulation from delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to cells from head to toe. Oxygen is crucial for healthy hair cell development and growth. When the roots of the hair are deprived of oxygen, they begin to weaken, this alone can interrupt their natural hair growth cycle.
Another concern some women may experience caused by increased levels of hormones is the sudden growth of facial hair.
Chronic stress also affects homeostasis and absorption of key nutrients which directly influence the development of hair cells & the growth cycle
increases T4 Thyroxine (thyroid)
increases Adrenaline (A) and Noradrenaline (NA
increases Cortisonne closely related to cortisol
increases Growth Hormone levels
increases Glucagon to get blood sugar level back to normal
Insulin is the only hormone that reduces blood sugar levels it’s secreted by the pancreas. If you’re suffering from stress the most important steps to keeping your pancreas healthy are:
- Follow a healing anti-inflammatory diet and resist the temptation to comfort eat on sugary desserts and sweets. Instead, create treats from fresh or frozen colourful fruits that are high in vitamin C… organic if you can get them. Add toppings of mixed seeds, coconut flakes or walnuts, etc.
6. Aim to sleep for at least 8 hours every night
When the stress hormones return back to normal levels, and as long as there’re no other exacerbating triggers causing disruption, the growth cycle and hair density should show evidence of returning to normal within the following 6 -9 months.
HAIR CARE TIPS FOR DURING LOCKDOWN
1. Brush your hair every day – this is the most effective way of managing natural (approx. 50 – 100 hairs) daily loss. Tangle teaser brushes are perfect for use on wet hair. Or a hairbrush with rounded pins that protect your scalp and hair from scratching.
2. Exfoliate your scalp to loosen dead skin cells or flakes before you cleanse. My favourite scalp purifying product is Mediceuticals TheraRx.
3 Massage your scalp with your head upside down for 2 or 3 minutes before you cleanse your scalp with your fingertips – this helps stimulate circulation and blood supply around the hair roots Or you can do this with a hairbrush with rounded pins that protect your scalp and hair from scratching. Move the brush across your scalp with small circular movements.
4. Cleanse your hair and scalp daily or at least every other day. A clean healthy scalp provides the best environment for actively growing hair follicles – try not to miss hair wash sessions, perspiration and natural scalp oils can block hair follicles.
5. If you have long hair apply a pre-shampoo conditioner once a week to mid-lengths and ends of hair before you cleanse your scalp. The pre-shampoo conditioner can be rinsed away with shampoo.
6. Give your hair a rest from heated appliances but If you leave your hair to dry naturally make sure it’s thoroughly dry before you put your head on the pillow for the night. Sleeping with wet hair can increase the risk of getting a fungal/yeast infection that may turn into dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.
7. Take time to sleep for at least 8 hours in one stretch. Relax with deep breathing and stretching when you wake, repeat regularly throughout the day. Listen to music, pray or meditate and identify things you are grateful for to relieve the stress.
…and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Keep well, stay at home, and stop the spread!