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Feeling Stressed?
Date:11/8/2007

repair itself after an injury. Specifically, the study involving 27 medical, dental and pharmacy students examined how periods of higher stress (in this case, during final examinations) impacted the skin's response to repeated stripping of cellophane tape on the subjects' forearms vs. periods of lower stress (such as after returning from winter vacation). Researchers found that it took longer for the skin to recover from the minimally invasive tape stripping during periods of perceived higher stress than during less stressful periods.

"This study was the first of its kind to suggest what dermatologists anecdotally have known for years -- that psychological stress adversely affects the normal functions of the skin," said Dr. Mayoral. "While the subjects in this study did not have any pre-existing skin conditions, I would suspect that people with skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis would have been even more adversely affected by this experiment."

Stressed-Out Hair

There are many reasons why men and women lose their hair, but Dr. Mayoral believes that stress may be the primary reason for unexplained hair loss. When someone is under stress, hair can go into the telogen (fall-out) phase. Telogen effluvium is a very common hair loss problem that can occur up to three months after a stressful event. After the initial hair loss, hair usually grows back in six to nine months.

Life-changing events such as childbirth or surgery also can cause hair loss. Dr. Mayoral explained that during these times, the body takes a "time-out" from growing hair to concentrate on recovery and healing. As such, hair does not grow as much and some could shed and not grow back right away.

"Stress affects people differently -- some may develop an ulcer, or have a heart attack, or lose their hair," said Dr. Mayoral. "Hair loss is a normal response to stress, but patients should see a dermatologist for a proper evaluation to rule out other medical causes. I also
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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