There may be no consensus as to whether stress can actually give you gray hair, but doctors are reporting increased instances of an even more troubling phenomenon for many young women: stress-induced hair loss.
“I would say about 15 or 20% of mostly female [patients] complaining of hair loss are probably due to stress,” Dr. Robert Dorin, a hair restoration surgeon, told CBS Pittsburg Dec. 2.
One of Dorin’s patients, Jenna Milazzo, is only 25 years old. “I just never had that much hair come out in the shower, in my brush,” she said. “It was so out of the ordinary; I could tell something was wrong.” It was then that she went to the doctor and found out that her busy lifestyle was the likely cause of her increased hair fall.
Dorin pointed out that stress-induced hair loss is often a vicious cycle for women, since the hair loss itself can be traumatizing.
“A woman coming in with luscious thick hair, and now all of sudden it has less volume or they see it thinning and to watch it fall before their eyes — [it] is quite anxiety building,” he said.
When it comes to treating stress-induced hair loss, doctors say that getting a busy lifestyle under control is key, including eating more healthily and getting more sleep.
If stress is the only factor, most patients should see full restoration in about a year. Otherwise, they may need to pursue more stringent measures.
Growing Treatment Options
The number of people seeking hair loss treatment each year tops 800,000, and there are a wide variety of restoration methods offered — some more legitimate than others.
Only two medications, Propecia and Rogaine, have been approved by the FDA. Propecia is only prescribed to men.
Hair loss is often seen as a male problem in America, but women actually make up about 40% of hair loss sufferers, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
Women are more often treated with topical solutions such as Rogaine. Oral contraceptives are another common treatment route for hair loss due to hormone changes.
Some practitioners are trying more novel approaches, such as one that involves injecting a combination of platelet rich plasma from the patient’s own blood and an FDA-approved powder called ACell into the scalp. This “micro-needling” activates dormant hair follicles, proponents claim.
“It’s been shown quite miraculously to stimulate stem cells to reproduce similar types of cells where it’s placed,” Dr. Daniel McGrath told Action News in Ohio last month.
And although more comprehensive research is still underway, other doctors have seen promising results using laser stimulation to jump-start hair growth.