The Psycho-social Consequences of Hair Loss

The psychological importance of hair is significant in many cultures worldwide. Most of us have a personal or emotional connection to our hair and we appreciate that it can positively and negatively influence our appearance and quality of life.It can be utilized as a means of social communication or to identify with a particular group or create a unique identity.

Socio-cultural studies have found that hair is important for recognition and determining whether another individual is physically attractive. The state of our hair can respond to psycho-emotional stress and potentially even auditory (sound) stress suggesting a direct link between the brain and hair.Unfortunately, those with Alopecia (the medical term for visible hair loss) are at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. Certain cultural behaviors focus on hair and its loss as symbolic.

For example military recruits are customarily “encouraged” to shave their heads, indicating removal of individuality as they assimilate with their new social group. From a physiological viewpoint hair protects our scalp from potentially harmful ultraviolet rays, helps to retain body heat, and responds to biological signaling pathways.