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Does stress make your hair fall out?

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Does stress make your hair fall out?

Hair Loss: Understanding and Diagnosing Telogen Effluvium

Hair loss is a common issue that affects both men and women, but what are the causes and how is it diagnosed? The phenomenon of hair loss is not always easily diagnosed and can be caused by a variety of different factors. One of the causes, known as telogen effluvium, is a condition where there is a rapid and excessive loss of hair, often triggered by stressful events.

In a typical hair cycle, a person without any health problems loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day. However, under certain conditions, such as strong stress, this can increase to a higher quantity than usual, leading to thinning hair and baldness. Telogen effluvium can be acute, where the loss occurs very quickly and then regrows over time, or chronic, resulting in prolonged periods of hair loss.

Stress-related mechanisms are thought to play a role in the occurrence of telogen effluvium, affecting hormone levels and triggering the hair loss. This can be caused by a variety of factors including surgery, illness, emotional distress, or even viral diseases. In fact, it has been observed that hair loss often occurs several weeks after recovering from a viral illness, and a recent study in Brazil found that many recovered COVID-19 patients reported an increase in hair loss after some time.

While the exact triggers of telogen effluvium are not completely clear, it is known to be more common in women than men, often linked to hormonal changes, such as after pregnancy. However, it can also occur due to constant stress from lifestyle factors.

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Diagnosing telogen effluvium is not always simple, and many cases go unnoticed or are initially mistaken for other hair-related problems. Identifying a possible trigger event that occurred approximately three months before the onset of the loss can sometimes help in the diagnosis, which is then confirmed with laboratory tests to evaluate hormone levels and the state of the hair follicles.

There is no single treatment for telogen effluvium, as it depends on the individual patient and possible presence of other health problems. Some treatments may include vitamin D supplements or the application of minoxidil, a drug used to treat baldness.

Overall, understanding hair loss, its causes, and how it can be diagnosed is complex. Telogen effluvium is just one of the many conditions that can contribute to hair loss, and further research is needed to fully understand and identify effective treatments for this common issue.

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