Is stress causing you to lose your hair?

Diagram of the cross section of hair
Diagram of the cross section of hair

There’s a condition where  a stressful event such as surgery, trauma, childbirth, extreme weight loss, severe illness, extreme emotional stress or other causes of stress causes your hair to fall out.  This condition is called telogen effluvium.  Telogen is a phase of the normal hair cycle.  It also happens to be the cycle where hair is shed off the scalp.  In this condition, many of the hairs enter into this telogen phase at the same time and end up being shed around the same time.  The shedding usually happens a few months after the stressful event.  The good news is that after the stressful event is resolved, the hair usually grows back.

A dermatologist is a physician that specializes in skin, hair and nails.  If you are not sure what is causing your hair loss, get it checked out.  Sometimes the hair can be gently pulled or forcibly plucked to examine the stage of the hair.  In telogen effluvium, a larger than normal percentage of the hairs that are plucked for sampling would be in telogen phase.  The distribution of hair loss on your scalp and the skin of your scalp will also be examined.  Sometimes hair loss can be multifactorial.  In difficult cases of hair loss, biopsies (sampling) of the scalp may be necessary to help diagnose your hair loss.

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