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Physical trauma can happen to anyone, and along with it can come hair loss.
Of course, there are many kinds of physical traumas, as are there are differences in people who experience it. Some hair loss conditions will require the advice of a physician who treats physical trauma. Some conditions are best left to a hair loss solutions provider who offer laser hair loss therapy, hair transplant surgery and other techniques for men and women. So the hair loss can have different mechanisms and different outcomes.
Here is how that breaks down:
Adults who have experienced a bodily injury
Hair goes through three cycles in its growth – basically a growth period, a rest period (no growth, just slowed to a stop), and a fall-out period, which for most people is the hair they see in the bathtub drain catcher after taking a shower.
When an individual experiences some type of bodily injury, more of their hair can prematurely enter the fall-out period, which is technically referred to as telogen effluvium. This means more hair in that bathtub drain than usual. The thinning is generalized over the entire scalp to varying degrees, and in some cases can result in complete hair loss (baldness). Fortunately, it’s typically a temporary condition such that in a few months it will grow back.
Children who have experienced a bodily injury
As with adults, a physical trauma – which can include surgery – will cause a child’s hair to enter the telogen phase prematurely, leading to telogen effluvium. In fact, a child is more likely to lose their hair from a physical trauma because their hair follicles are still growing along with the rest of the body. Further, children are more vulnerable to infections from an accident because their immune systems are still developing. Immunity can play a role in hair loss. But as with adult hair loss, this telogen-phase hair loss is reversible in most cases.
People who have had an injury to their scalp
A different kind of hair loss happens when the scalp itself is the site of the injury. A deep cut, puncture, or burn from fire or chemicals can cause permanent hair loss because it damages the hair follicles, the “roots” from which the hair grows. Depending on the severity, there might be some regrowth that is thinner and finer than the rest of the person’s hair. While not reversible, there are many methods of cosmetic treatment that can restore the appearance of a full head of hair.
People who have experienced sexual assault
Sexual assault is physical assault that brings psychological and emotional trauma as well. The mechanisms of hair loss that follow a sexual assault are essentially the same as any physical injury: the hair prematurely enters the telogen phase (when hair falls out), leading to partial or sometimes even complete hair loss.
Important to note, not all victims of sexual assault experience this. And with most cases of telogen effluvium (premature telogen phase hair loss), the hair regrows as the stress of the incident recedes.