Many physical traumas, like those which could be sustained in a motor vehicle accident, can cause sudden hair loss, Stress-related situations can result in abrupt and noticeable thinning and loss of hair, and may occur two to three months after the accident or original trauma.
Hair loss can be caused by many common and unusual factors, from dietary deficiencies to tight or harsh hair styling regimens to stress from a car accident. For the individual experiencing the unexpected hair loss, getting to the source of the issue is usually a priority, as concern about losing hair can add additional emotional stress.
Stress-Related Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is a medical condition in which the immune system overreacts and attacks an individual’s hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out. Alopecia areata can appear as a single bald spot or can develop to almost total baldness, depending on the severity of the case.
Stress-Related Telogen Effluvium
Another condition, known as telogen effluvium, can also be caused by trauma and stress. Telogen effluvium is most often a delayed hair loss beginning two or three months after the traumatic accident or stressful event, and the victim may not even associate the hair loss with the original traumatic incident.
Adrenaline is a hormone released by the body when it is under threat or cope with stress; it readies the body for fight or flight. It affects the hair follicles by pushing them prematurely into their natural resting or “non-growing” state.
The hair grows and rests in cycles which include:
- The anagen (growth) phase
- The catagen (transitional) phase
- The telogen (resting) phase
Telogen effluvium is connected to the telogen phase. In the normal hair cycle, 5 to 10 percent of the hair on an individual’s head is in the resting period at any given time.
With telogen effluvium, the anagen phase slows, so that fewer hairs enter the transitional and growth phases. With this condition, a larger than the usual number of hair follicles move into the resting telogen phase, which leads to the shedding of hair. The primary symptom of telogen effluvium is an increased amount of hair being shed. The individual may notice that when they wash or brush their hair, more hair falls out than usual. They may also see more hair in the shower drain or on their pillow.
Treating Stress-Related Hair Loss
Both telogen effluvium and alopecia areata require a diagnosis from a qualified hair transplant doctor like Dr. Robin Unger before any treatment can begin. The doctor will likely take a medical history from the patient before carefully considering and weighing the symptoms. The doctor can then create a customized treatment plan, aiming to prevent further hair loss and stimulate regrowth.
For more information, contact a hair transplant specialist to arrange a consultation.