Everyone wants healthy, strong and shiny hair like the models from the pages of glossy magazines and advertising brochures. But reality often goes against expectations. Why does this happen and who is to blame?
What causes hair loss?
Studies show that before a person notices that their hair is falling out, they will lose about 50% of their hair. In this case, we are talking about the diagnosis of “alopecia”, which requires a comprehensive examination and long-term treatment.
But very often hair loss is diagnosed by people who do not see any noticeable hair loss along the side of their head (which is typical for alopecia) but notice hair loss on the comb or in the shower. Is this a loss that needs to be addressed immediately?
Mona Gohara, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, tells us that human hair grows in three phases – anagen (growth proper), catagen (resting phase) and telogen (loss). According to research, about 80 percent of the hair on the head is in the growth phase at any given time, and 10-20 percent is in the resting phase or in the loss phase.
“It’s normal to lose about 100 hairs a day,” says the expert. – “This is the phenomenon that explains those fallen hairs we see on the comb or when we wash our heads. But what to do if there are more than a hundred?
Its name is stress!
When a person experiences a stressful situation, hair that is in the growth phase can change phase prematurely, going into catagen and telogen. So they begin to fall out intensively, causing the wearer legitimate anxiety.
Unfortunately, scientists are not yet able to give an exact explanation for this phenomenon. But they suspect that the stress hormone cortisol, which makes strands behave in an atypical way, is to blame.
“When you’re stressed, the body doesn’t perceive hair and nails as something valuable and meaningful. This means that the resources meant for their growth are reallocated to maintaining your vital organs. This is necessary to keep you alive in the moment of danger,” explains Dandy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist. – The human body has not yet evolved properly to distinguish between different types of stress. The brain can’t tell the difference between danger in the form of a saber-toothed tiger catching up with you and an emotional message on social media. It’s just doing whatever it takes to keep you alive.”
The good, the bad, the evil
The interesting thing about this story is that any stressful situation can cause you to lose your hair.
“It can be physiological or emotional stress. And it doesn’t have to be bad. Exciting events such as a wedding, the birth of a baby, a change of residence, are also stressful to your body,” Dr. Mona Gohara warns. – And that’s not to mention things like the use of general anesthesia, the stress associated with COVID-19 or just the stress of life in general.”
Time to look for roots
A legitimate question arises: how long after a stressful event does hair begin to fall out? After all, it takes weeks or even months to regrow length!
Scientists suggest that between the “reference point” – that is, the stressful situation and the loss of hair takes from 3 to 9 months. “Hair loss due to stress is a reminder of what happened in the past,” Dr. Dandy Engelman is convinced.
Difficulties of diagnosis
But there is good news in this story! When stress-related hair loss occurs, hair density will return as soon as a person takes control of their state of mind and health.
But there is also a small “spoon of tar”! Some people may incorrectly believe that their hair loss is due to stress, but the “catalyst” for this negative change is something else.
Hair loss can be caused by genetic predisposition, autoimmune diseases, body malfunctions, taking certain medications and many other reasons. That is why it is so important to see a doctor in time to find out the real situation.
Strategy and Tactics
If the cause of hair loss is still a stressful situation, the patient needs to know that it will pass. “I usually say that hair restoration will take some time. Of course, this is unfortunate news, because many patients want immediate results! But every person who has tried to grow hair at least once knows that it’s a waiting game,” warns Dr. Dandy Engelman.
The focus should be on, first, stopping losing hair and, second, starting to grow it back. Fortunately, there are effective guidelines for this.
1. Reduce your stress levels
It is important to learn to take stress under control, to recognize it at an early stage and immediately buy out using proven techniques. To relax, experts advise practicing yoga, meditation, exercise, deep breathing.
“Take into account also that stress levels can be affected by a lack of sleep. If a person does not sleep enough, his body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. So the first step to ‘recovery’ is to establish sleep,” says Dr. Mona Gohara.
2. Enrich your body with vitamins
Scientists have found that vitamins A, B, C, D and the minerals iron, selenium and zinc play a crucial role in maintaining healthy hair growth. They are involved in cellular metabolism and help “hold” hair in the scalp.
You can get them both from a quality variety of nutrition and from multivitamin complexes recommended by your doctor.
3. Switch to a mild shampoo
Although many patients are afraid to wash their hair for fear that it will provoke hair loss, timely washing is essential. It cleanses the scalp and stimulates strand growth. The main condition is to use a mild shampoo.
Harsh formulas (especially those containing sulfates) can provoke dry and brittle hair, which will only worsen the situation.
4. Try oil masks
According to a 1998 study published in the Archives of Dermatology, rubbing essential oils into your scalp for seven months improved skin and scalp health by as much as 43%. Experts used cedar oil, rosemary and lavender.
To prepare an effective mixture, you can also take any base oil – such as jojoba or grape seed – and combine it with 2-3 drops of lavender, lemongrass or peppermint essential oil. Then apply to the scalp before washing and leave for 10 minutes.
5. Massage regularly
One small 2016 study found that as little as 4 minutes of massage a day for 24 weeks yields visible results in hair regrowth.
That said, massage can be done either with your fingertips or with a vibrating massager.
6. Ask your doctor for a therapy
Your doctor may prescribe medications and recommend salon procedures. So, according to the Mayo Clinic, good results are obtained by applying means on the basis of minoxidil. They come in the form of a lotion or foam that is applied to the scalp.