Countless studies suggest that stress contributes to teenage alopecia, a condition that affects the hair follicles and causes chunks of hair to fall from your scalp. Physical or emotional stress could cause up to three-quarters of scalp hair to rapidly shed — a disorder called telogen effluvium — according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But are social media and smartphones contributing to the problem, too? Excess use of social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, leads to a surge of stress hormones in your body, something that could be taking its toll on your hairline.
The Correlation Between Stress and Social Media
Fifty-seven percent of social media users claim their lives are “somewhat stressful,” while 26 percent say they are “very” stressed, according to analysis from market research company CivicScience. On the flip side, 48 percent of participants who don’t use social networks said their lives were “somewhat stressful,” while 24 percent said they were “very” stressed.
Young adults are the biggest consumers of social media, with 77 percent of those aged between 12 and 17 using Facebook. The biggest causes of social media stress are virtual friendships, lifestyle envy and checking an ex’s online profile.
It’s not just social media, either. Smartphone games, like the recent global phenomenon “Pokemon Go,” increase stress levels, too.
Stress and Hair Loss
“Significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase,” says Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a board-certified doctor who specializes in addiction psychiatry. “Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.”
Around 2 percent of all Americans have alopecia, a condition that often starts in childhood. “Stress and hair loss don’t have to be permanent,” says Hall-Flavin. “If you get your stress under control, your hair might grow back.”
The bulk of teenagers suffer from stress — 10 percent of young adults experience an anxiety disorder — and social media could be making the problem worse. Whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr, constant social media use can spike stress hormones and produce feelings of anxiety. Moreover, these stressful situations could lead to teenage alopecia, a disorder that often impacts a young adult’s self-esteem.
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