Hair growth is a biological process that can be complex since various factors influence it. Hormone balance is one of the main factors involved and among them, cortisol, the stress hormone, has gained attention due to potential influences on hair.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol, which is essential to the body’s stress response. This article aims to answer your question about does cortisol affect hair growth.
What is Cortisol?
The first step to answering the question is understanding what cortisol does in the body. Cortisol is why people seek stress management tips in situations like work or school that cause cortisol to rise. Cortisol is a response to stress that is physical or psychological. It assists in regulating the body’s metabolic processes, immune system and inflammation levels. It is crucial to maintain homeostasis since chronic stress can lead to elevated levels.
The state of chronic stress is associated with negative health effects, including impaired hair growth. Other negative effects include Cushing’s Disease, in which 70% of cases are made up of women between the ages of 20 and 50. Other negative signs include but are not limited to:
- Digestive issues
- Weight gain
Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle
Understanding the hair growth cycle is essential when wondering, ‘Does cortisol affect hair growth?’ Hair follicles undergo a continuous cycle of three phases. The first phase is the anagen or growth phase. A growth period typically lasts three or four years. It then goes into the catagen phase, a transition phase where it briefly shrivels. Lastly is the telogen phase, which becomes dormant and lasts three to four months. About 10% to 15% of all hair on the body is in this resting phase.
Various factors can disrupt this cycle which leads to changes in hair growth.
Hair Follicles and Inflammation
Cortisol levels can have a direct impact on hair growth through the follicles. Elevated levels can prematurely disrupt the hair growth cycle by pushing follicles into the telogen or resting phase. Your body makes it a priority to get your stress levels down so it will stop hair growth from making sure it does more important tasks.
This shift can result in increased hair shedding and decreased hair growth. Cortisol may also impact the dermal papilla cells, an important part of nursing hair follicles that can affect how they function.
Chronic stress and high cortisol levels are associated with an increased risk of inflammation in the body. Inflammation negatively impacts hair follicles and leads to conditions like androgenetic alopecia, which is patterned hair loss and alopecia areata, an autoimmune-related hair loss. When inflammation is induced by cortisol, it disrupts the hair follicle’s microenvironment and impairs new hair from growing.
Also Read: Dry Hair : That Helps With Stressed Tips!
How Can You Tell if You Have Cortisol Hair Loss?
Identifying if your hair loss is cortisol-related can be challenging since it presents similar to other reasons for hair loss. Certain signs and symptoms may direct you toward cortisol-induced hair loss but can only be diagnosed by a professional. Here are some signs to consider.
Sudden/Excessive Hair Shedding
If you notice increased hair falling out during washing, brushing or throughout the day, it could be a sign to take note of. Pay attention to any changes in normal shedding.
Hair loss from cortisol may result from thinning hair over time, specifically on top of the scalp. Your hair may be less voluminous and noticeably thinner.
A receding hairline can be caused by increased cortisol levels in some cases. It can significantly affect those predisposed to patterned baldness due to genetics.
Changes in Texture
Your hair may start to become dry and brittle. It may feel rough when you touch it and become prone to breakage.
Managing Cortisol Levels For Healthy Hair
While it is unrealistic to completely eliminate stress from your life, managing your stress levels can help your overall well-being and hair health. Although it is easier said than done, you can promote life with less stress. These are some strategies that may help you regulate your cortisol levels.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine activates the stress axis and increases blood pressure. When taken in during times of stress, it can contribute to the stress endocrine responses.
- Stress reduction techniques. Add stress-management practices into your daily life. Some effective ones to try are meditation, yoga, deep breathing or engaging in hobbies you already love to reduce overall stress levels.
- Healthy lifestyle. Prioritize regular exercise, eat healthy foods and get the right amount of sleep each night. This will help with hormone balance and support your overall health.
- Professional help. If nothing is helping, consider going to therapy or support groups to help manage stress and create helpful habits.
Reduce Stress For The Best Hair
When the correlation between cortisol and hair growth is complex, evidence suggests that it can impact the hair growth cycle. When wondering does cortisol affect hair, remember the hair growth cycle and how it gets disrupted. It is best to live a lifestyle that takes action to manage cortisol levels to have an overall positive well-being.
Also Read: 5 Vitamins For Intense Hair Loss