Hair loss prevention: How to stop it falling out and thinning with stress – Evening Standard

Posted: April 16, 2020 at 1:56 pm

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We are living in stressful times.

For some the mask wearing, hand washing, food hoarding and job uncertainty will cause sleepless nights, for others it might trigger, or exacerbate existing, hair loss.

Its well established that hair loss can be related to emotional stress or anxiety, award-winning trichologist Dr. Serkan Aygin tells theStandard. When youre stressed or anxious, your body produces whats known as the fight or flight response. This is when your body is making extra hormones to prepare it to deal with whatever it thinks of as being a potential threat. This change in your hormone levels can have effects all around your body. When these extra hormones are made, they can affect the growth patterns of the hair follicles on your scalp.

Theres usually about a three-month delay between the stressful event or time period and the moment your hair starts falling out. So anyone feeling the Covid-19 anxiety, might not actually notice any hair loss until the end of summer.

The good news though, is that hair loss due to stress tends to be temporary. Unless theres another underlying medical reason for your hair loss, it should only last for as long as youre going through that particular period of stress or anxiety, says Dr. Aygin, who has treated over 10,000 patients for hair loss at his eponymous specialist hair clinic.

During the period of hair loss, more hairs on your head are in whats known as the resting stage. This doesnt mean your hair follicles are dead or that your hair will stop growing permanently. Your usual hair growth and regrowth pattern should return to normal a few months after your stress levels go back down to normal.

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If youve lost hair as a result of stress or anxiety, theres every chance it will start to grow back once your stress levels are back to normal. Try working on reducing your stress levels as well as improving your general health and wellbeing. Any hair loss due to stress should grow back on its own in a few months.

So, if youre experiencing hair loss due to stress, the best thing to do is to stay calm, stay healthy and try not to panic. But how do you know if your hair loss is due to stress? And if its hair loss of a more permanent variety, what are the best methods of prevention, detection and treatment?

We asked Dr Aygin to provide some further clarification on the varying causes of hair loss and his preferred methods of treatment.

What causes hair loss?

Possible causes of hair loss include:

1. Genetics

The most common cause of hair loss is a hereditary condition called male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness. It usually occurs gradually with ageing and in predictable patterns a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning hair in women. Dihydrotestosterone or DHT, a breakdown product of the hormone testosterone, generally triggers male pattern baldness. Hair follicles exposed to DHT begin to shrink and the growth stage becomes shorter. The end result is thinner and shorter hair strands. Over a period of time, hair follicles will reach a phase where they are no longer capable of producing hair.

2. Hormonal Imbalance

A hormonal imbalance can lead to a multitude of annoying health and beauty issues, from adult acne to weight gain. If your hormones are out of balance, the effects will radiate throughout the whole body (and of course, that includes your hair). Hormones play a huge role in regulating the hair growth cycle. "Oestrogens (female hormones) are 'hair friendly' and help to keep hairs in their growth phase for the optimal length of time. Androgens (male hormones) are not very hair friendly, and can shorten the hair growth cycle. An excess of androgens (which could be caused by an endocrine disorder, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) can cause hair loss. The extent of this is often down to genes - If you have a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity, a hormonal imbalance can affect your hair more than it would someone who does not have a predisposition.

3. Medications and supplements

Hair loss can be a side effect of certain drugs, such as those used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout and high blood pressure.

4. Iron Deficiency and Anaemia

One of the most common causes of hair loss in women is an iron deficiency. Iron is essential for producing hair cell protein, without it, your strands will suffer.

5. Thyroid imbalance

The thyroid gland helps to regulate the body's metabolism by controlling the production of proteins and tissue use of oxygen. Any thyroid imbalance can therefore affect hair follicles. Also, if hypothyroidism is left untreated it may result in anaemia, which - as we've just discussed - is another condition that can impact the hair.

6. Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency often causes hair loss as it can affect the health of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues. It's most common in vegans as you can primarily only obtain B12 through animal proteins.

7. Dramatic Weight Loss

A steep drop on the scales can impact your tresses,6-12 weeks after dramatic weight loss, whether it be intentional or unintentional, hair commonly comes out in excess. While our hair is incredibly important to us psychologically, physiologically it is non-essential; we could survive without it with no detriment to our physical health. This means that any nutritional deficiency often first shows up in our hair. Yet another reason to avoid crash dieting and instead try to adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

8. Stress

Many people experience a general thinning of hair several months after a physical or emotional shock. Stress may also trigger scalp problems such as dandruff, disrupt eating habits and mess with the digestive system all of which can have a negative impact on hair. This type of hair loss is generally temporary.

9. Age

For women who are about to enter menopause, changes in their body may also have an effect on their hair. Hair loss becomes more prevalent leading up to and after the menopause. That being said, it's important to realize that our hair ages, and as we get older, hair naturally gets finer. It's a totally normal part of the ageing process.

Is hair loss more common in men?

Although both men and women experience hair loss, it is more common in men.

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, is a hereditary condition that is the most common type of hair loss among men. According to the American Hair Loss Association, 95 per centof hair loss in men is caused by androgenetic alopecia. It affects roughly 30 per cent of men by the age of 30, 40 per cent by 40, 50 per cent by 50, and 60 per cent by 60.

This inherited trait that tends to result as a receding hairline and a thinning crown in men, is caused by genetic sensitivity to a by-product of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Because men are constantly producing testosterone throughout their lives, they are also constantly producing DHT. This makes men more likely to lose hair than women, who do not have a similar genetic disposition to hair loss.

The early signs of male pattern baldness are as follows:

Noticeable change in your hairline

Male pattern baldness generally begins in the hairline, when you notice that your mildly receded hairline has turned into a more obvious M-shaped hairline. For most men this begins around the temples and the crown and often starts with thinning rather than total hair loss.

Noticeable thinning of your hair

Not all men experience baldness in their hairline. Some men experience what is defined as diffuse thinning; a type of hair loss that either affects the entire scalp or specific areas like the crown that results in hair loss that starts from the back or top, rather than from the hairline.

Excessive hair loss after showering or brushing

On average, people lose round 50-100 hairs a day, meaning that the five to 10 hairs you notice between your hands after shampooing aren't anything to be concerned about. However, if you start noticing an excessive amount of hair falling out throughout the day, then there is a risk that it could be the result of male pattern baldness.

In general the early signs of hair loss show up in the following ways;

Gradual thinning of the hair on the head

Receding hairline that becomes more visible with each passing year

For women, the first noticeable sign of hair loss is often a widening part or less fullness to their ponytail.

Are there effective preventative measures that can be taken?

Treating hair loss in its early stages can help minimise overall hair loss and increase the treatments efficacy. There are a few ways to control hair loss, but what to do depends on the cause of why you are losing your hair.

Some hair loss conditions such as hair loss experienced after pregnancy (telogen effluvium) are temporary and may resolve on their own. However if your hair loss is persistent you may want to schedule an appointment with your local dermatologist so as to diagnose if your hair loss is caused by conditions such as male pattern baldness, thyroid issues, scalp infections, nutrient deficiencies, stress or simply ageing.

I would recommendfour main hair-loss prevention treatments to consider, all of whichwork to stimulate regrowth on dormant follicles.

1. Finasteride

Finasteride, also sold under the brand name Propecia, is an FDA-approved prescription medication for hair loss prevention in men. Finasteride can be an effective way to prevent your hair from thinning because it prohibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a powerful hormone that is thought to cause hair follicles to miniaturise and eventually stop growing hair. To get this benefit of finasteride, you need to take it properly and consistently as prescribed by your doctor.

2. Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a vasodilator, meaning its designed to widen blood vessels and improve the flow of blood to certain areas of your body. When applied topically in the form of a serum or foam, Minoxidil increases blood flow to the parts of your scalp where hair grows. By increasing blood flow, more oxygen and nutrients can be transported into each hair follicle, promoting growth and hair health.

3. PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)

PRP involves taking a small sample of blood and spinning it in a centrifuge to concentrate and separate the platelets and plasma from the other components of your blood, which is then injected back into the scalp. Platelets are the source of growth factors that have the power to promote hair growth and also thicken your existing hair. Growth factor generates new formation of blood vessels in the scalp, which in turn, increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to the hair follicles with subcutaneous blood flow.

The role of PRP is to strengthen the hair and prevent hair loss. PRP aims to promote and enhance tissue repair as well as to stimulate new hair growth.

4. LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy) or LED Light Therapy

LED light therapy, which is actually known as Low Level Laser Therapy, is a clinically proven, effective treatment for men and women who have mild to moderate hereditary pattern hair loss. Laser hair therapy increases the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which induces the release of nitric oxide. This in turn leads to enhanced hair growth. Additionally, it has been also observed that laser therapy was capable of reducing scalp tissue DHT, which may help slow, or even stop hair loss and improve hair growth.

Can hair grow back after it falls out?

Some forms of hair loss can be naturally reversed, without treatment. Reversible conditions mainly include hair loss caused by medications, prolonged stress, temporary illnesses, inadequate nutrition and improper hair care. In addition to this, hair loss caused by hormonal changes related to pregnancy and deficiencies in the function of the immune system can also be reversible.

What products would you recommend to slow the process of hair loss? And how do they work?

The important criterion to consider for controlling and/or slowing the hair loss process is to always have your hair follicles supplied with additional nutrient substances which, in turn, are requirements for healthy hair growth and hair regeneration. Hair growth can be stimulated as well as enhanced by products aimed at dermatological anti-hair loss care which:

Improve blood supply to the scalp

Serve as an additional source of energy for the hair

Promote hair strengthening

Increase hair resistance

Usinganti-hair loss products depends on the severity of the hair loss condition. For individuals with more defined hair loss patterns it is recommended to use a combination of different products such as shampoo, lotion and capsules for providing the hair with the necessary biological nutrition. At our clinic we recommendPriorin capsules (shop them here) and Sebamed Repair Shampoo (shop it here) to all our clients.

It is important to acknowledge that before trying out any recommendation that has been provided here, you should always first schedule a consultation session with your local dermatologist.

Dr. Serkan Aygin is a hair transplant specialist andmember of the International Society of Dermatology. Currently operating from his eponymous clinic in Turkey, he is due to open a second specialist hair clinic in London in August 2020.

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Hair loss prevention: How to stop it falling out and thinning with stress - Evening Standard

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