The Impact of Cortisol on Hair Loss and Skin Conditions: What Health Practitioners Need to Know
As health practitioners, it's essential to understand the complex role of cortisol in your patient's overall health, particularly when it comes to hair loss and skin aging. Both short-term and chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol secretion, which has been linked to hair loss and unhealthy skin conditions.
In this blog post, we'll explore the relationship between cortisol and these conditions and why practitioners must ]be aware of the connection.
Cortisol and Hair Loss: More Than Just Male Baldness
When we think of hair loss, male pattern baldness is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, women in midlife may also experience significant changes in hair texture and growth, including thinning.
Short-term and chronic stress can trigger increased cortisol secretion and interfere with 2 of the 3 growth phases of hair. Cortisol delays the anagen (growth) phase and prolongs the telogen (resting) phase, resulting in less hair growth and increased hair shedding in both men and women.
Cortisol is known to affect the function and cyclic regulation of hair follicles. Increased cortisol can decrease the production of elastin and collagen that support the health of the hair follicles, leading to weaker and thinner hair strands. Cortisol also can cause an imbalance of hormones, such as thyroid hormones that are essential for hair growth and metabolism and increases sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) that then binds to free testosterone and estrogen, so they are not available for healthy hair follicles.
The Role of Cortisol in Skin Conditions
High cortisol levels not only contribute to hair loss but also impact skin conditions. Elevated cortisol reduces the synthesis of collagen, elastin and other skin proteins that maintain skin’s elasticity and firmness. This can result in the increase of wrinkles, age spots, thinning skin and even slower healing of wounds. Cortisol can also disrupt the skin barrier and the skin microbiome, which can cause dryness, infection, and eczema. Cortisol can increase oil production in the skin, which can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. It can also cause inflammation, which can worsen skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis. Therefore, managing stress and cortisol levels is important for maintaining healthy and youthful skin.
Harnessing the Power of Hair Cortisol Analysis: Advantages for Health Practitioners and Their Patients
As health practitioners, it's vital to consider the impact of cortisol on hair loss and skin conditions when addressing our patients' concerns. By understanding the relationship between cortisol levels and these conditions, we can better guide our patients toward effective stress management techniques and, if necessary, recommend targeted treatments to promote healthy hair and skin.
One powerful tool in our arsenal is the hair cortisol analysis from CanAlt Labs, which offers numerous benefits compared to traditional blood and saliva tests. Hair cortisol analysis measures long-term cortisol levels, while blood and saliva tests only provide a snapshot of current levels. Sample collection is accessible in an outpatient setting. It is not dependent on patient adherence to a 24-hour urine collection or medication intake.
Additionally, hair cortisol analysis allows for the creation of retrospective timelines by dividing hair samples into segments, enabling the study of intervention effects on long-term cortisol levels. With hair growing at a constant rate of 1 cm/month, samples can be divided into different segments and analyzed separately, providing a retrospective exposure timeline.
Analysis of scalp hair is becoming a new tool to investigate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity in clinical practice. In addition, it can help monitor hydrocortisone replacement therapy. Studies have shown that hair cortisol levels may be altered in various stressors and pathological conditions. There is an association between increased long-term cortisol and an adverse cardiometabolic risk profile.
Encouraging patients to adopt stress reduction practices, such as meditation, regular exercise, and proper sleep hygiene, can help maintain balanced cortisol levels and support overall hair and skin health.
As a health practitioner, staying informed about the latest research on cortisol and its effects on the body can empower you to provide the best possible care for your patients.
Utilizing CanAlt Labs' accredited hair cortisol test will give you an advantage in understanding and addressing your patients' needs.
We're here to help.
CanAlt is pleased to share that our hair cortisol test has been accredited by Accreditation Canada, demonstrating our commitment to providing reliable results. This accreditation highlights our focus on accuracy and precision, ensuring you can confidently use the test results to offer well-informed guidance to your patients.
Contact us to order your test kits.