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The Different Ways that Stress Can Affect Your Hair and Scalp

Posted: Friday, August 11th, 2017

Stress affects all of us. In fact, there have been numerous studies and attention given to how stress can affect our heart, stomach and ability to get restful sleep. We have largely overlooked, however, how stress can affect us on the outside. Most notably, we haven’t talked a lot about how stress can cause excessive hair loss, an itchy and dry scalp, and even flare-ups or eczema or psoriasis. We talk about these external symptoms of stress in turn below.

Excessive Hair Loss

Both psychological and physical stress can have a huge impact on your entire body, even causing your hair to fall out in large amounts. This condition is temporary and is called telogen effluvium. It often begins around the time of the trauma and can continue for about six months. It may even take up to 18 months for your hair follicles to completely recover.

With excessive hair loss caused by stress, be patient and give your body enough time to rebound. It’s important to note that a majority of those affected by excessive hair loss do regrow their hair and it does return to normal. During this time when your hair is thin, you can try using volumizing shampoos, conditioners and other products to make your hair look thicker. It’s also a good idea to avoid using heavy conditioners during this time as they can weigh down your hair.

If you remain concerned about the amount of hair you’re losing, reach out to your doctor. Your excessive hair loss could be the symptom of an underlying condition such as anemia or a thyroid disorder.

Dry, Itchy Scalp

Stress can also increase the amount of hormones your body produces and release pro-inflammatory chemicals that can affect your scalp’s protective function. As a result, it becomes easier for moisture to escape, leaving your hair and scalp dry, and for pollutants to get in, causing your scalp to itch.

When you’re experiencing dry, itchy scalp, it’s important to let your hair’s natural oils build up to moisturize your scalp. To achieve, try washing your hair less frequently and, when you do, use gentle shampoos that are formulated for sensitive scalps. Also try using a conditioner when washing your hair since it can help hydrate your scalp.

Eczema and Psoriasis Flare-Ups

Two common conditions that are hereditary but can be triggered by stress are eczema and psoriasis.  Eczema on the scalp usually shows up as a red, itchy rash. Alternatively, those who have psoriasis will display a flare-up on their scalp and other parts of the body as a hardened plaque that can itch or bleed.

If you are suffering from either condition, it is recommended that you contact your dermatologist to get an over-the-counter remedy to help with your symptoms. If your situation is more severe, you may need to contact a doctor for a stronger remedy, like a prescription medication.

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