According to experts, shedding up to 100 strands of hair a day is normal. Because hair that falls off naturally is also replaced by new strands every 2-3 months. However, if you’re suddenly experiencing an excessive amount of hair loss or noticing bald patches then this could be a sign of stress-induced hair loss.
BB: Can stress cause hair loss?
Dr Niketa: Yes, stress definitely causes hair loss. Physical, mental, emotional — all types of stress are responsible for causing hair loss. For example, someone who has recently recovered from typhoid, malaria or any illness for that matter, can experience hair loss.
BB: How quickly can stress affect hair loss?
Dr Niketa: The thing about stress-related hair loss is that it doesn’t start immediately. The hair loss begins around 2-3 months after a person has experienced a stressful episode. The reason behind this can be found in our hair growth cycle which is anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the growth phase; 90 per cent of the hair on our scalp is always in the anagen phase and only about 10 per cent of hair is in the telogen phase, which is the resting phase. After the rest period of about 4 months, it falls out and gets replaced by new strands. Sudden stress causes about 30-40 per cent of hair to go into the telogen phase where it rests for about 2-3 months. At the end of this phase, the entire hair that had entered the telogen phase during the stressful episode starts to fall off. This can last up to six months and the person can lose up to half their hair. This type of stress-related hair fall is called Telogen Effluvium.
BB: How to figure out if my hair loss is due to stress?
Dr Niketa: Usually, the person’s history is taken into consideration when trying to find out if hair loss is due to stress, as very few tests exist to support this. However, if you’ve encountered a stressful episode in your life and are experiencing hair loss 2-3 months later then it is most likely related to stress.
BB: How much hair fall is normal?
Dr Niketa: Shedding about 50-100 hair strands is normal, but you also need to keep an eye on the volume. If the hair is not being effectively replaced by new strands at the roots, the person might experience hair thinning and hair loss.
BB: What are the different types of stress-related hair loss?
Dr Niketa: The most common type is the Telogen Effluvium, which we discussed above.
The second type is Alopecia areata. In this, the person loses coin-sized patches of hair and the area looks completely bald.
The third type is Trichotillomania. This is purely psychological stress where the person is so stressed out that they keep twirling their hair between their fingers and yanking it out. Most often, they don’t even realise that they’re pulling their hair.
BB: How to treat stress-related hair loss?
Dr Niketa: Hair that has already gone into the telogen cycle can’t be reversed, but adopting a healthy lifestyle like eating a nutritious meal that consists of proteins and minerals, exercising and being gentle with your tresses can prevent further hair loss. Avoid rigorous champi; instead, apply oil to the roots using a cotton ball. Stay away from chemical hair treatments for a while as it can further damage and break your tresses.