Hair Loss

Should I also be worried about hair loss due to COVID?

Should I also be worried about hair loss due to COVID?

Photo: James Day/Stock Gallery

I started getting texts last year that started, “Hey, so I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but I think my hair is falling out?” around the middle of 2020. What started as a trickle, quickly became a discussion on TikTok. Alyssa Milano tweeted a video of her brushing her wet hair and pulling out small clumpssaying, “This is what COVID-19 does to your hair,” and it’s a frequent topic of discussion in Corps of survivors, a Facebook group for those who have recovered from COVID-19. In fact, hair loss has become enough of a problem during the pandemic to The American Academy of Dermatology will issue a public service announcement about this.

Hair loss is not a symptom of COVID, says London-based dermatologist Dr. Sharon Belmo, specializing in hair and scalp disorders. Instead, she said what people are most likely experiencing is a condition called telogen effluvium. While COVID seems to trigger hair loss for some, Dr. Belmo explained that it’s not something unique to the virus that’s causing it. Instead, it’s seen as an aftereffect of a stressful event, like being sick with a nasty bug, or emotional stress, like losing a job or maybe just working a little too hard.

“You absolutely don’t have to get COVID to experience this type of hair loss and loss,” Dr. Belmo said. “Last year’s turmoil was enough to push people into all sorts of stress reactions.”

Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist, agrees, adding that the stress of a particular fever is thought to be triggering COVID-related hair loss. “Often with COVID-19, patients develop a fever, and several months later they often see more hair loss,” Dr. Hirsch explained. Besides fever, Dr. Hirsch said general illness and stress are considered the main triggers of telogen effluvium — and during a pandemic, you may have had all three.

Hair loss could be due to a condition called telogen effluvium, which is not rapid, overnight mass loss that leaves obvious bald patches, but rather generalized loss, with perhaps a little more noticeable loss around temples,” said Ivy Carson, a nurse practitioner at Parsley Health. “He has a very diffuse motive,” she explained. It’s normal to lose up to 50-150 hairs a day, so not all visible hair loss is a sign of actual hair loss. As such, identifying the cause can be difficult. “For some women, maybe they notice their scrunchie wrapping around their ponytail four times instead of three, or maybe they have more baby hair around their face than they do. front,” Carson added.

Dr Hirsch said in his practice, telogen effluvium has become an “incredibly common complaint”, with many patients seeking advice and treatment. “Naturally, it’s very stressful for people,” she added.

There are many reasons why hair loss occurs, underlying hormonal imbalances, genetics or perhaps a deficiency in your diet. In this case, according to Carson, your body defaults to behaviors like this during times of stress, because from a fight-or-flight perspective, you don’t need Hair. “It distracts from things like our digestion or hair and nail growth, because those are non-essential processes at the time when the body believes it’s in danger,” Carson said.

However, telogen effluvium has a unique feature. “Usually, telogen effluvium is diagnosed retrospectively,” confirms Dr. Belmo. Due to the cyclical nature of hair growth, you may not notice excessive loss until perhaps even six months after an illness or stressful event. Besides illness and stress, other factors like iron deficiency, hormonal changes related to birth control or childbirth, thyroid problems, rapid weight loss, or medication side effects can also induce effluvium. telogen, Dr. Belmo said.

As distressing as hair loss can be, no matter how minor, Dr. Belmo and Dr. Hirsch said telogen effluvium is nothing to panic about and usually resolves over time. “Shedding can last anywhere from three to six months, but remember, it may not start until six months after the stressful event,” Dr. Belmo said. While it’s tempting to obsessively follow loss and growth, Dr. Belmo said to resist the urge as much as possible. If you think your hair loss has been going on for more than six months or has been particularly dramatic, you should talk to your doctor to check for underlying conditions.

“The most important thing for patients to know is that it’s almost always not permanent hair loss, just an acceleration of the growth cycle,” Dr Hirsch said, also noting that minoxidil is FDA approved for topical application to enhance hair growth. There is a range of minoxidil products on the market, so it is advisable to discuss with your health care provider which product is best for you. Dr. Belmo emphasized the importance of regaining overall health first and letting hair growth return in time.