Hair loss is a multi-faceted issue. It can be hereditary, hormonal and even caused by stress, too. Dr Joshua Chong, Medical Director at Terra Medical Clinic tells us about the correlation between stress and hair loss, as well as the available treatments and supplements that can help.
How does stress lead to hair loss?
There are two types of stress-induced hair loss. The first is known as acute telogen effluvium; this happens following a physically or emotionally stressful event like a major surgery, a change of job, massive weight loss, or relationship troubles. Hormonal stimuli on the hair follicles prompt a larger than usual number of hair follicles to enter the telogen phase, also known as the “resting stage” of the hair growth cycle, resulting in heavy shedding.
The second variation is chronic stress effects on hair. This happens when stress hormones such as cortisol and oxidative damage from chronic stress continually damage the hair follicles; the result is a slow and gradual thinning of the hair with or without shedding. Over a course of months to years, the hair appears thinner and finer, leaving more areas of the scalp exposed.
How do I know if I have stress-induced hair loss?
While this is usually a diagnosis of exclusion where all other biological causes have to be ruled out, it’s a known fact that most people experience stress. Hence, the effect of stress on hair may be more common than you think. If increased hair shedding follows an episode of stress (for example, the recent Circuit Breaker in Singapore) by around 12 to 16 weeks, there is a clear, temporal relation between the stressor and the hair loss, which means acute telogen effluvium is likely to have happened.
Is stress-induced hair loss permanent?
Acute telogen effluvium is a temporary and self-limiting phenomenon that typically lasts three to four months before settling down. It may take a few months before new hair starts to grow again. If the hair follicles have other sources of damage, the new hair that grows may be thinner than before. Chronic stress contributes to the development of pattern hair loss (male or female pattern balding); it may require long-term treatment by a professional to control and reverse the effects.
What are the treatment options?
The first step is to treat the underlying condition and stop the acute stressor. Once that has been achieved, acute telogen effluvium should naturally subside in three to four months. Topical treatments like minoxidil and CG210 are helpful in reducing shedding and improve growth. Terra Scalpboosters use hair growth factors to speed up the growth of hairs that have shed; this treatment consists of a session every two weeks at Terra Medical Clinic.
For chronic stress, the use of natural stress adaptogens like reishi mushroom extract and turmeric extract is recommended. These naturally-occurring compounds help to reduce the hair follicles’ response to stress hormones, lowering the microscopic injury that happens.
Hair restoration supplements like Nutrafol contain antioxidants like resveratrol and vitamin C, as well as stress adaptogens like ashgawanda and reishi mushroom extract to reduce oxidative damage and stress hormone damage of the hair follicle. Taking Nutrafol regularly aims to reduce the impact of a stressful lifestyle on the hair.
What’s so special about Nutrafol?
Most hair supplements tend to miss out on important ingredients. As a result, patients might have to source a second or third supplement to add on to the mix. Nutrafol, however, is comprehensive in mastering the nutritional aspect of hair loss in men and women by using all-natural ingredients to improve the hair follicle health. Due its natural composition and drug-free formula, there are no side effects from consuming Nutrafol. Clinical studies show that users start to see positive effects on their hair, such as less shedding and more hydrated hair, within a month. Better coverage and increased volume is usually seen at around three months of continuous use.
Why choose a supplement that’s drug-free?
The majority of women we see in clinical practice have some nutritional, stress and hormonal component to their hair loss. Purified drugs don’t have the ability to address all these issues at once, probably targeting only specific subsets of hair pathology without addressing the larger picture.
While the risk is low, drugs used in the treatment of hair loss may have negative side effects. In addition, the results are usually a “one-way street”, which means that once you start the regime, ceasing the drug use will likely cause a reduction in results. We also know that certain hair loss drugs have a plateau effect where no further improvement is seen after being on the medication for a while.
Lastly, Nutrafol as a drug-free supplement means that more hair loss sufferers can access it without seeing a doctor for a prescription.
Is scalp care important?
Scalp care is important when it comes to treating or preventing hair loss. Excessive scalp oil can lead to dandruff, and, at a more inflamed stage, a medical condition called seborrheic dermatitis. In severe cases, the inflammation that results from seborrheic dermatitis can result in the scarring of hair follicles and permanent hair loss.
Consider using a medical-grade haircare range like Aromase MediPRO, which offers two varieties: one for oily scalp and its inherent problems like dandruff, and the other for dry, sensitive scalp. Formulated with 99.8 percent organic ingredients and packed using eco-friendly recycled materials, Aromase is endorsed by dermatologists, too. Aromase goes into action immediately; itching is noticeably reduced after washing. With consistent use of the Aromase three-step treatment program, improvements in scalp oil level, flakiness and itchiness can be achieved in four weeks.
Note: instead of a self diagnosis, it might be better to speak to the team at Terra to better determine the causes of your hair loss in order to the root of it.