Many people claim to notice a great hair loss during stressfull periods. In these cases we can immediately think about stress alopecia.
Altough a sure connection bewteen alopecia and stress has not been scinetifically proved yet, the experts see a connection between the two elements.
Our hair follows a life cycle and it is totally normal to see it falling. Every person loses around 100 hairs per day. During our life hair grows, falls and re-grows at least 20 times. The life cycle of the hair can last up to 6 years and if the loss occurs in these circumstances it has to be considered as a physiological process.
The psychogenic factos however can cause an hair loss progress and for this reason alopecia can be seen as a psychosomatic disorder caused by stress and tensions, just like psoriasis, urticaria and atopic dermatitis.
Some studies claim that stress causes a release of hormones from the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The hormones reach the fibroblasts, the keratinocytes and the sebaceus glands, those involved in the hair growth.
Stress alopecia, trichotillomania and alopecia areata
The alopecia due to stress is different from trichotillomania, an unhealthy habit that consists in the urgent desire to pull strands of hair. They both have psychological causes, but trichotillomania is a behavioral disorder, not psychosomatic.
While alopecia areata is characterised by bold areas, the stress alopecia is characterised by a spread thinning all over the scalp and in particular in the area that goes from the hairline to the vertex, in women. In men instead it causes a receding of the hairline and a spread thinning.
It is not easy to distinguish stress alopecia from seborrheic alopecia. They have in common an excessive production of sebum. However, the sebum of the seborrheic alopecia causes the hair loss, while for the stress alopecia the sebum is just an indirect cause, since the direct one is the stress.
Alopecia due to stress also presents many symptoms in common with androgenetic alopecia, but the latter, instead of the former, always has an hereditary cause.
It is not easy to treat stress alopecia, but it is not impossible either. For example, it is possible to treat the indirect causes, such as the sebum, and so improve the situation. Anyway we suggest to turn to a dermatologist to have a better idea about every single situation.
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