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Stress-Related Hair Diseases

Stress can take a toll on our bodies, as seen through various stress-related diseases. And one surprising area where stress can cause problems is our hair. Many individuals experience hair loss, thinning, or difficulties in growing and maintaining healthy hair due to stress. In this blog post, we will explore stress-related hair diseases, their causes, symptoms, and potential prevention methods. We will also advise on when to see a doctor for your hair problems and how they can help you regain healthy hair. So, if you are concerned about the impact of stress on your hair and want to learn more, then keep reading!

The Link Between Chronic Stress and Hair Loss

Stress can lead to hair loss, and chronic stress can exacerbate the issue. Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that is triggered by stress, causing hair follicles to enter into a resting phase and eventually fall out. Trichotillomania, the urge to pull one’s hair out, can also be a result of stress. Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, has also been linked to severe stress. Managing stress levels can help prevent or reduce hair loss. Those experiencing sudden or patchy hair loss should consult with a doctor.

Hair Growth Cycle and Telogen Effluvium 

Understanding the hair growth cycle and telogen effluvium is important for those experiencing hair loss. Hair grows in three stages: anagen, catagen, and telogen. Telogen effluvium is a common type of hair loss that occurs when stress or a change in the body causes up to 70% of hair in the anagen stage to prematurely enter the telogen phase. This results in rapid hair loss and thinning, typically around the top of the head. Treatment exists to reverse hair loss, but hair will typically grow back in three to six months without treatment.

How Chronic Stress Impairs Hair Follicle Stem Cells

Hair has long been linked to chronic stress, but researchers at Harvard University have recently identified the biological mechanism by which stress impairs hair follicle stem cells. The study conducted on mice, found that chronic stress triggers a stress hormone which puts stem cells into an extended resting phase without regenerating the follicle or hair. The research also found that specific cell types and molecules are responsible for relaying the stress signal to the stem cells. This pathway can potentially be targeted to restore hair growth in people experiencing stress-related hair loss. 

Corticosterone: The Stress Hormone that Inhibits Hair Regrowth

Corticosterone, the stress hormone, has been found to inhibit hair regrowth. High levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in humans, can cause a reduction in the synthesis and an acceleration in the degradation of skin elements like hyaluronan and proteoglycans, which play an important role in the hair growth cycle. This disrupts normal hair growth, leading to conditions like telogen effluvium and androgenetic alopecia. These findings have led to the development of novel effective treatments of stress-related hair growth disorders, like bioavailable proteoglycans. 

The Role of the Dermal Papilla in Hair Regeneration

The dermal papilla is a cluster of cells located underneath the hair follicle that plays a crucial role in activating hair follicle stem cells. Researchers have discovered that chronic stress can inhibit hair regrowth by preventing dermal papilla cells from secreting a molecule called Gas6, which is necessary for activating hair follicle stem cells during the resting phase. By restoring Gas6 levels researchers may activate stem cells and promote hair growth. Further study is needed to determine how this mechanism works in humans.

Potential Treatment for Hair Loss from Chronic Stress.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University, supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, sheds light on potential ways to treat hair loss caused by chronic stress. The study found that stress hormones impair stem cells necessary for hair growth in mice by inhibiting a molecule called GAS6, which activates hair follicle stem cells. By delivering GAS6 into the skin, the normal hair cycle was restored in mice experiencing chronic stress or fed corticosterone. These findings may lead to further insights into how stress affects tissue regeneration in the body. Hair transplant can be a permanent solution after a recent hair loss caused by stress.

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