It goes without saying that all of us have experienced high levels of stress and worry over this past year. Alongside having an impact on our metal health and wellbeing, stress can also prematurely trigger hair loss. Fact.
Before we dive into looking at why this happens, it's good to understand the lifecycle of a hair.
The Anagen (growing) phase marks the start of the cycle. New hair sprouts from the follicle and keeps going anywhere between 2-7 years. Genetics play a big part in how long this phase actually lasts and if you've ever heard someone say "I just can't grow my hair", this is the very reason why - short life span! Next comes the Catagen (resting) phase, where hair detaches from the blood supply and sits there not doing much for 2-3 weeks before entering the Telogen (shedding) phase, which makes room for new hair and alas the cycle starts again. On average, we lose 100 hairs a day.
Thinking of stress related hair loss, we might consider high profile figures such as TV Presenter, Gail Porter whose reality turned into a nightmare, waking up one morning to find her pillow covered in clumps of hair - losing all of it including her eyebrows and lashes within a month, but Gail's condition is rare.
Telegen Effluvium (TE) is a common stress associated hair loss condition and one you may have not heard. So what is TE? Well its usually triggered by a stressful event. Hair is prematurely forced into the Catagen phase, which can result in an alarming amount of hair loss (up to 50%) and this correlates with hair shedding six to twelve weeks after the event.
So, it's no surprise that at the time of writing this, across the country we are hearing many stories of hair loss with stress and Covid laid to blame. Financial worries, homeschooling, lockdown rules and contracting the virus have all played their part on our wellbeing and Dermatologists have seen a rise in hair loss reporting. In particular, 22% of long Covid patients have suffered hair related symptoms including excessive hair shedding. Its still unclear exactly why but studies are underway.
So what can be done? Well the good news is its usually temporary and after TE hair loss comes new growth. The focus should be on building a good foundation for growing new hair to ensure its strong, healthy and in abundance. A good balanced diet is a great start to give hair the optimum recovery. Look for foods loaded with Protein, Omega 3, vitamin B and Iron. Or if you're too busy to plan everything that goes into a daily balanced diet, consider a hair supplement. I myself recently started taking *Nioxin Recharging Complex, a hair growth vitamin with 15 vitamins and minerals including Biotin, Zinc and Iron. A month in and I've already noticed faster nail growth and clearer skin, so I know later down the line my hair will reap the rewards.
And let's not forget that prevention is better than cure. Being able to alleviate stress and relax is key to helping avoid hair loss in the first place. A good rule of thumb is to include three key areas into your interests - move, breath and reflect. Whether that's yoga, dog walking or cold water swimming, encompassing these three elements has been widely recognised for easing stress and promoting wellbeing. To leave you with my final thought 'you get out what you put in', and this has never been truer of your hair. By concentrating on diet, your hair will thank you for it later down the line!
Nicky McKenzie Hair is a solo home salon owner based in Surrey, with a love for all things hair related and a special interest in hair loss and curly hair.
*Nioxin Recharging Complex, winner of the Good Housekeeping Beauty Award 2021 - Best Product for Hair Breakage - available from my store. £44.60. Nioxin is recognised by The Institute of Trichologists as the leading hair loss brand, 16 years consecutively.