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How Stress Takes a Toll on Your Hair and Scalp

Is your hair thinning, falling out, or otherwise showing signs of damage?

Unfortunately, worrying about the issue might only make it worse. Chronic stress can damage basically all aspects of your health, including the look and feel of your hair.

Here’s what you need to know about how stress affects your hair, how you can reverse existing damage, and how to protect your follicles for the future.

How Stress Affects Your Hair and Scalp

Stress can damage your hair and scalp in multiple ways. Let’s take a look at the most common ways.

Hair Loss and Hair Thinning

hair stress can cause hair loss and thinning

Hair loss is a common stress-related problem. Excess production of stress hormones interferes with your hair’s three-stage growth cycle, resulting in too much time spent in a resting phase (Telogen effluvium) when hair is meant to fall out.

It’s also possible for your hair to start thinning due to stress. Studies show that exposure to stress causes your hair to grow less frequently and less thick. When stress is reduced, hair can regain volume and grow faster.

Scalp Issues (Dry Scalp and Itching)

Scalp problems are also common. Chronic stress causes your body to release pro-inflammatory chemicals, resulting in two issues. First, moisture escapes, resulting in dry skin and hair. Also, your hair and scalp have a harder time blocking pollutants, resulting in increased itchiness.

Premature Greying

stress can cause premature hair greying

Premature greying is another sign of stress that comes out in your hair health. Studies show that the fight or flight response also impacts how soon your hair turns grey. Those with lots of trauma or stress in their lives may have premature greying.

Eczema and Psoriasis

Eczema and psoriasis flare-ups can also occur due to stress. While these are genetic conditions, chronic stress can increase the frequency and intensity.

Even if stress doesn’t cause your hair to fall out, its appearance will likely suffer. Stress-related damage can take many forms, including increased thinness, dryness, oiliness, and breakage.

How To Reverse Hair Loss From Stress

How To Reverse Hair Loss From Stress

Fortunately, stress-induced hair loss is potentially reversible. A clinical study found nutritional deficiency plays a vital role in hair loss and growth. If stress is causing your hair to fall out, try adjusting your diet. Increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Certain vitamins and supplements can also help combat hair loss. Take an iron supplement for at least three months. Other helpful supplements include Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, and Ferritin. They help replenish lost nutrients to make hair stronger and fuller.   

Medication can also help regrow hair. The most common hair growth medication is minoxidil, known by the brand name Rogaine. It’s a topical formula that you apply directly to your scalp two to three times a day. Only the topical formula is used for hair growth. The tablet form is used to treat high blood pressure.

Your hair care habits might also need to change. Special shampoos infused with vitamins can help strengthen your hair. If you have long hair, use an applicator bottle when shampooing, so the product penetrates deep into the scalp. Additionally, if your hair is oily, try shampooing every other day or using dry shampoo.

How to Manage Stress and Get Healthy Hair

Ways to Cope With Stress

While you likely can’t eliminate all sources of stress from your life, you can learn effective ways to manage the effects of stress on your physical and mental health.

Meditation is a proven technique for relieving stress. Sit quietly for 20 minutes a day while focusing on your breath. If you’re new to meditation, many apps are available to help guide you through the process.

Exercise can also help combat stress. A Harvard study found regular exercise reduces the presence of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, while also increasing the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and pain relievers.

Finally, scalp messages are also an effective stress-reduction treatment. It has been shown that regular scalp messages of just 15 minutes a day could reduce stress hormones, blood pressure, heart rate, and more.

Stress-induced hair loss is an upsetting experience, but help is available. By implementing specific hair care strategies, and taking steps to manage your general stress levels, you can reverse certain types of hair damage and loss. Not only will your hair become luxurious and strong, but your overall physical and mental well-being will also improve! 


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the effects of stress on your hair.

Does stress damage hair?

Yes, stress can damage your hair and often does. There are three main hair loss conditions associated with stress. They are trichotillomania, telogen effluvium, and alopecia areata.

Can stress change my hair texture?

No! Stress causing your hair texture to change is not very common, but it is possible. Most of the time, the hair changes that come with stress have to do with losing hair.

Does stress cause scalp problems?

Yes, stress increases hormones that create a more oily scalp, which leads to more itching and thus more dandruff. If you notice this change in your scalp, try to lower your stress levels. 

Is hair loss from stress temporary?

Sometimes the hair loss from stress is temporary. If you can get your stress and anxiety levels down, your hair can grow back. It is not always the case, but it is possible.

Can hair thinning be caused by anxiety?

Hair thinning caused by anxiety is called telogen effluvium. This condition is when your body is under severe stress for months at a time, and it causes your hair follicles to go into a resting phase.

Within a few months, you might notice lots of hair coming out when you brush your hair or run your fingers through your hair. This hair loss can cause your hair to feel like it is thinning. 

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