Stress can induce hair loss, and is especially notable in women

July 24, 2009 By Lindsay Kalter

The New York Times recently reported that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's hair was thinning as a result of extreme stress. If so, doctors say, she's not the only one.

Dermatologists say that although life's normal ups and downs aren't enough to precipitate it, can lose up to 50 percent of their hair after an unusually stressful event. Dr. Rebecca Euwer, a Dallas-based dermatologist, said that some of the more common causes are childbirth, surgery or a death in the family.

"When someone comes in and says they're losing their hair, you ask, 'Well, what happened about three months ago?'" Euwer said.

This type of hair loss can occur both in men and women. But most of the known cases are reported by women.

Euwer said that hair goes through three phases: growing, resting and falling out.

About 90 percent of hair is in the growing phase. Most of the remaining hair is in the resting phase, where it remains for about three months. When people suffer physical or psychological trauma, it shocks the hair follicles into a resting phase.

People do not notice the effects until three months later, when it begins to fall out.

"About 1 percent of your hair is falling out, so it's normal to lose about 100 hairs a day," she said. But when you begin to notice more hair on your pillow or in your shower drain, it's time to go to the doctor, she said.

The good news is, it will usually grow back on its own.

However, there's a chance that women older than 30 could be experiencing the female equivalent of male-pattern baldness. Euwer said if this is the case, only hair on top of the head will thin. If it is stress-related, the sides and back of the scalp will also be affected.

Then there are women hit with the double-whammy: both stress-induced hair loss and natural thinning with age. In these cases, doctors might need to prescribe Rogaine, an over-the-counter hair regrowth treatment.

But Euwer said to use this with extreme caution. Some women have gotten more than they bargained for after using extra-strength Rogaine, which is intended for men.

"Women who get hold of that have gotten some on their forehead," she said. "Then they have to go and get laser hair removal."

Not all is stress- or age-related. Excessive styling or harsh treatments can also damage the hair, causing it to fall out. And a sudden loss of hair may signal a more serious condition, such as diabetes or lupus.

___

(c) 2009, The Dallas Morning News.
Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at www.dallasnews.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New insights into controversial diagnosis of adolescent chronic fatigue

October 23, 2017
Crucial new research could provide some clarity around the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents. The research by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute published ...

Do boys really have a testosterone spurt at age four?

October 23, 2017
The idea that four-year-old boys have a spurt of testosterone is often used to explain challenging behaviour at this age.

New prevention exercise programme to reduce rugby injuries

October 23, 2017
A new dynamic 20-minute exercise programme, performed by rugby players before training and pre-match, could dramatically reduce injuries in the sport according to a benchmark study published today (Sunday 22 October).

Our laws don't do enough to protect our health data

October 23, 2017
Have you ever wondered why your computer often shows you ads that seem tailor-made for your interests? The answer is big data. By combing through extremely large datasets, analysts can reveal patterns in your behavior.

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

Three million Americans carry loaded handguns daily, study finds

October 19, 2017
An estimated 3 million adult American handgun owners carry a firearm loaded and on their person on a daily basis, and 9 million do so on a monthly basis, new research indicates. The vast majority cited protection as their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.