Since COVID 19 has made its way around the world everyone’s stress levels are through the roof!
It's very common for hair to change in texture and thickness over the course of one's life. Hair loss can be the result of heredity, hormonal changes, medical conditions, medications, medical treatments and stress.
Normally we all lose about 100 hairs per day, out of approximately 100,000 contained by the average scalp. The average lifespan of a single hair is 4 ½ years; the hair then falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new hair. After the age of 30 (and sometimes before), men and women both start losing hair, though men tend to do so at a faster rate.
Hair Loss Causes:
Genetic hair loss isn’t due to excessive amounts of hair falling out, as many believe, but to an insufficient amount of hairs growing back to replace the hairs that have been shed (technically, fail to re-grow more hair). It can be inherited from either parent and is caused by a sensitivity in your hair follicles to a certain form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and thyroid problems can increase hair loss. Pregnant women have higher levels of hormones, which prevent shedding during pregnancy, and once the hormones decrease, so does the hair.
Medical conditions include nutritional deficiency, digestive malabsorption, scalp infections such as ringworm and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and alopecia areata. Medical treatments include radiation and chemotherapy. Medications (prescription and over the counter) include those used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure. They include for instance, cholesterol lowering atorvastatin and simvastatin, blood thinner coumadin / warfarin, blood pressure medications like lisinopril, allergy medications such as Benadryl, acid reflux medications like Tagamet and so on. Check for hair loss side effects online or with your pharmacist regarding medications you are taking.
Fortunately, hair loss caused by stress is usually only temporary.
Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event. It usually occurs on the top of the scalp. During this time, more hairs on your head are in what is known as the ‘resting stage’. This does not mean your hair follicles are dead or that your hair will stop growing permanently.
When you are stressed or anxious, your adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. Studies show that cortisol is directly connected to the function of the hair follicle. When high levels of cortisol are present, the adrenal glands begin to produce fewer hormones that promote hair growth. If those hormones are not present, the normal hair function and hair growth cannot prosper. As a result, the hair becomes weaker and begins to shed.
Usually there is about a 3-month delay between the stressful event or time period and your hair falling out. The good news is unless there is another underlying medical reason for your hair loss, it should only last for as long as you are going through that period of stress or anxiety.
Worrying about hair loss can also be a vicious cycle. It is easy for people to get anxious about losing their hair, which then in turn raises stress levels, and can cause even more hair to fall out. The most important thing to try to do is to reduce your stress levels and give your hair and scalp the nutrients that activate and promote your hair growth again.
To lower your stress reaction:
Calm & Calmer (Lifetime Vitamins) is a supplement that combines different nutrients. L-Theanine which is an amino acid found in green tea and extracted out. It helps to calm the mind of racing or stressful worrying thoughts to help you feel less overwhelmed. Relora is an herbal combination that calms the adrenal rush leading to panic attack, out of control type feelings. This adrenaline rush often precipitates panic attacks. Calm and Calmer is great for all stressful situations without making you sleepy.
Anxiety Soother liquid (Herb Pharm) For those who don’t like pills! Designed to support your body’s response to moments of occasional and mild anxiety. Calming, relaxing, soothing and mood elevating. Proprietary extract blend: 625 mg Kava rhizome with root, Passionflower flowering herb, Bacopa herb, Albizia bark, Lavender flower and Lavender essential oil. Other Ingredients certified organic cane alcohol (66-76%), distilled water & certified organic vegetable glycerin. Dilute in water & or juice.
Relax-o-zyme (Enzymatic Therapy) is a somewhat more potent natural relaxer which contains premium extracts of valerian, passion flower, and hops. These herbs are combined with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which are important for proper nervous system function. It is particularly beneficial for stress that causes neck and back tension/tightness or tension headaches. It can be very helpful for getting a better relaxed sleep.
Keratin along with collagen and elastin are known as your body’s 3 beauty proteins. Larger roots beneath your scalp create thicker hairs on top of your head. What controls the root size? A group of specialized fibroblasts called dermal papilla. The larger the dermal papilla, the thicker the hair follicle, the thicker the hair shaft. Studies strongly suggest that ch-OSA® increases the volume of the dermal papilla. That creates a bigger shaft – the “bin” that holds the actual hair protein keratin. Next comes the process of “filling up” the follicle with the keratin.
Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that is a part of the vitamin B family. It is also known as vitamin H. Your body needs biotin to help convert certain nutrients into energy and improves your body’s keratin infrastructure. Keratin is a basic protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails as well as producing new hair follicles that form at the root of the existing follicle. (Stop taking biotin for one week before getting bloodwork particularly for the thyroid as it may promote inaccurate results. After testing you can start back on it again.)
BioSil (Natural Factors) choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA). BioSil strengthens between protein bonds, giving your hair the ability to resist stress. Orthosilicic acid is just a silicon atom surrounded by four hydroxide (OH) units which increases the “elasticity” of capillaries. This ensures an abundant flow of growth-rich nutrients that optimize the keratinization process in your hair. Researchers theorize that the ch-OSA® increases the activity and efficiency of your keratin-producing cells and has been clinically proven to increase hair volume by 12.8 percent and increase hair strength by more than 13.1 percent.
Collagen II (Jarrow Formulas) Collagen can act as an antioxidant and fight damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that develop in your body as a result of stress, air pollutants, smoking, poor dietary choices, alcohol, and other environmental influences. Too many free radicals can harm your cells, proteins, and DNA. Collagen makes up 70% of your dermis, the middle layer of your skin that contains the root of each individual hair and contributes to the elasticity and strength of your dermis. With age and stress, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen and replenishing cells in the dermis.
Shampoo and conditioners with Moroccan Oil &/or Hyaluronic acid are often beneficial.
Hair scalp massager shampoo brush (Maxsoft) that has soft thick silicone bristles stimulates the blood flow to the scalp and oil glands (Deep clean and exfoliate the scalp) and helps to relax the scalp muscles and reduce stress.
During this difficult time in our lives stress is increasing every day. The last thing we want is more stress caused by hair loss. Just a little prevention can go a long way!
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center 508-336-4242
Host Holistic Healthline Radio