Ask the Hair Docs: Did Holiday Stress Cause My Hair Loss?

For more than forty years, the expert team at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research has been helping men and women from all over the world to deal with hair loss.  During that time, board certified dermatologists Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis have heard just about every possible question about this all too pervasive condition.  We have long believed in the importance of patient education and so, in this recurring blog feature, we will provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about hair loss and hair restoration.

Ask the Hair Docs Did Holiday Stress Cause My Hair LossQUESTION: I am a married, self-employed mother of three teenaged children, so I am no stranger to stress.  However, starting back in October, a number of things happened that pushed that stress to the next level.  I had difficulty eating and sleeping, but couldn’t afford to take any time off to take care of myself.  Happily, things have gotten better, but now I have noticed that my hair seems to be coming out in much greater quantities than I am used to.  I know that everyone sheds small amounts of hair regularly, but this doesn’t seem normal.  Is it possible that my stress over the holidays is causing my hair to fall out?  Is there anything that can be done to stop it?

ANSWER: What you are experiencing is actually not entirely uncommon, and is usually nothing to worry about.  As you may be aware, hair follicles naturally go through regular cycles of hair growth (the anagen phase) and shedding (the telogen phase).  At any given time, only about 15% of your hair follicles are in the telogen phase, which is why most people shed from 50 to 100 hairs each day.  However, intense physical stress, like an accident, major surgery, or even a crash diet, can disrupt that natural cycle and push a disproportionate number of follicles into the telogen phase at once.  After about three to five months, these follicles will then shed their hairs at the same time, causing diffuse thinning over the entire scalp. While this condition, which is known as telogen effluvium, is usually the result of physical trauma, a serious emotional shock can sometimes prompt changes in eating and sleeping patterns that the body interprets as dangerous stress, resulting in the same symptoms.

Rest assured, the hair loss that results from telogen effluvium is almost always temporary.  Although the hair loss cycle has been disrupted, the follicles themselves have not been damaged.  Once your stress level has been reduced, and once typical eating and sleeping habits have been restored to normal, the hair follicles should return to their normal cycles.  In some cases, it may take some time for the scalp to completely recover the hair it has lost.  Every patient is unique, and hair loss can be the result of a number of different causes, so I would recommend coming in to the Griffin Center for a comprehensive diagnosis.  Then, if additional treatment would be helpful, we can help minimize further hair loss by prescribing custom-formulated topical compounds and can even provide advanced hair restoration treatments, like red light laser therapy, platelet rich plasma therapy, or microneedling with growth factors to stimulate new hair growth.

If you have any other questions about the hair loss treatments offered by The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, or at the Griffin Center for Women’s Hair Loss, then please visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ .  If you are interested in discussing hair loss or hair restoration options, please do not hesitate to contact The Griffin Center and schedule a consultation.