Hair loss is something that has always been typically associated with old age. As you get older, your hair follicles become weaker and more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and stress, which causes male/female pattern hair loss to develop, or so the conventional narrative says.
Recently though, it seems like young people may need to start caring more about hair loss then the generations before them. The world is changing, society is changing, and it might be causing people to lose their hair at a younger and younger age.
In this article, we are going to look at the potential underlying reasons as to why young people may be more at risk for hair loss than ever before. We will highlighting which factors are the most prevalent and that young people need to be aware of.
Why are young people experiencing hair loss?
If you are young and trying to figure life out, get a job, save money, travel, etc. the last thing you want to be worrying about is hair loss.
Unfortunately, the way the world is today may be causing many young folks to bear the burden of hair loss prematurely according to a study from china (1). For clarification: we talk going to be talking about hair loss in a general sense, no necessarily just androgenic alopecia (AGA; male/female pattern hair loss).
Let’s talk about a few of the reasons why.
When you are stressed, your body produces and excess amount of the hormone cortisol in response. Cortisol disrupts the normal function of the hair follicle (2). This can lead to a condition called telogen effluvium, which is essentially a fancy name for stress-induced hair loss.
When telogen effluvium occurs, hair is switching from the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle to the telogen (resting) phase prematurely. This can cause severe, rapid shedding which can cause thinning throughout the scalp, all because of stress.
There are several things that are causing elevated stress in young people (3).
First is jobs. Young people today are finishing school and forced to try and find a job during an economic upheaval. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing, and university degrees are starting to have less significance, all of which makes it markedly more difficult for young people to land full time positions after college.
Beyond just securing a job, money is also a major stressor. Young people are racking up bills quicker than ever with student loans, increased cost of living in cities, cost of technology and more, all making it harder to save money than ever before. Credit card debt is also at a record high.
In short, the stress of trying to find a job and make enough money to support yourself after college is not only more difficult than ever before, but also may be causing people to suffer from stress induced hair loss at a young age.
Societal pressure on young people could be a factor in hair loss as well. With social media use on the rise, more than ever before there is immense pressure for young people to become successful and get the newest cars, technology, clothes, etc.
Social media also has made unrealistic beauty standards well… the standard for many young people. Unrealistic beauty standards put pressure on people to have perfect skin, bodies, hair, etc. which can ultimately lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, and many other emotional issues.
Some of these emotional issues can cause immense stress (4), which as we know causes hair loss. They have also been linked to poor dietary choices (5). When you have a poor diet, you may not be consuming the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs for optimal health. This can have a negative effect on your entire body, including causing nutrient deficiency which is linked to hair loss (6).
In short, the increased use of social media and flow of information has inadvertently caused many young people to develop emotional issues due to societal pressure, several of which can indirectly cause hair loss.
With increased social media use means that there is increased technology use.
Cell phones are a commodity that nearly every young person utilizes on a day-to-day basis, also, most jobs nowadays require you to sit at a computer for 8 hours a day. Unfortunately, this technology is highly addictive and causes many people to spend too much time on it. Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between increases screen time and poor posture (10), which may be very problematic for your hair.
There are muscles in your neck that are attached to an area of your scalp called the galea. When you have poor posture, the muscles in your neck are under constant tension which causes the galea to be stretched. When the galea is stretched, the blood vessels that lie just below it are compressed which reduces blood flow to the hair follicles. This can be problematic for pattern hair loss sufferers because low blood flow and hair loss are correlated (11).
If you want to learn all about poor posture and hair loss, click here.
So, in summary, the increased use of technology is causing more and more people (especially young people as they tend to use technology much more than older generations) to develop poor posture, which has evidence linking it to the development of pattern hair loss (12).
Increased stress, social media use, and technology use are all factors that could be contributing to a whole host of health problems, including hair loss at a younger age. The world is much different than it was 50 years ago, and young people are going to have to learn how to adapt and deal with the stress while also minimizing their technology use if they want to keep their luscious locks.