COVID-19 Hair Loss – You May Be Losing Hair Due To The Pandemic Stress
It has been a year filled with anxiety and distress due to the pandemic. Whether you’re concerned about your or your loved one’s health conditions, job security or the added stress of being able to work from home while facilitating at home learning for the kids, it’s safe to say that this year we certainly had a lot more stressors to deal with than ever. The combination of daily life stressors coupled with daily altered habits such as wearing a mask and keeping your hair away from your face in the form of tighter hairstyles has created a perfect environment for potential or accelerated hair loss and also a steady flow to hair transplant clinics.
Before we jump to conclusions, let’s discuss a few points about this whole situation.
What Typically Leads To Hair Loss
Before identifying the root cause, we need to pinpoint on some of the major causes of hair loss.
Hair loss is common in both genders but is especially seen more in women. The commonest causes of hair loss include genetics (a family history of premature balding), increasing age, certain autoimmune or hormonal diseases (PCOS), frequent use of heat and hairstyling tools and increased levels of stress (known as telogen effluvium) after a traumatic loss of a loved one, childbirth, surgery or healing from an illness.
Other less common causes include frequent hair washings and nutritional deficiencies, such as veganism and vitamin losses.
How Has COVID-19 Increased Hair Loss?
The coming of the COVID pandemic has inflicted strict lockdowns, kept physical and social contact to a bare minimum and has caused many businesses to reach the verge of bankruptcy. This has led to elevated levels of stress and heightened anxiety and moods, it has also inflicted a sense of uncertainty and financial insecurity amongst many young adults who were looking to settle down in their lives.
The term telogen effluvium, a certain kind of hair loss that is part of the body’s natural mechanism to cope with a certain stressor. It can be seen after a stressful period of time inflicted on an individual such as after a car accident, immense psychological stress, recovering from a chronic or acute illness, or simply a change in body and dietary habits.
It can sometimes also present as an early feature of COVID-19, as research has found that high grade fever, generalized fatigue and impending hair loss were some of the classical symptoms found in COVID positive patients.
Not only this, hair loss is also common in survivors of the COVID 19. It is reported that the drug heparin, used commonly as a treatment regime can lead to female pattern hair loss or male pattern baldness. This can usually take up to several months for complete reversal.
Will The Hair Loss Be Permanent?
Well, the good news is that stress induced hair loss is temporary and can be completely reversed within 6-8 months.
Telogen effluvium is temporary shedding of some hair follicles and doesn’t necessarily mean permanent baldness.
This means that once the physical and psychological stressors are dismissed, one can expect completely normal to slightly thinner regrowth of the hair follicles.
What Can I Do About COVID Stress Induced Hair Loss?
The first and foremost way is to identify and accept the stressors of your life. Realize that it’s just not you and people all across the globe are feeling the same level of uncertainty as you.
Try maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, and check in with your health care provider for possible nutritional deficiencies, and start taking iron and vitamin B12 supplements along with a biotin supplement for added strength.
As far as stress is concerned, keep your social circle engaged with you at each step. If you can’t meet, talk on the phone daily, channel your concerns and talk about your emotions instead of bottling it up. Try meditation and breathing exercises for calmness and mental clarity.
At the end of day, these uncertain times certainly pose a threat to your mental sanity, but this too shall pass.
Furthermore, if you were suffering from hair loss before the pandemic and it has been accelerated, you may need to contact a general physician or a hair transplantation doctor.