Hair loss, a fever, an upset stomach, and a loss of smell? While patients infected with COVID-19 may have a variety of symptoms, doctors have noticed a link between COVID-19 and hair loss, but what does the research say?
Is COVID-19 the actual cause of hair loss, or is it the stress caused by the pandemic? Below, we will go over all you need to know about this newfound link, as well as several simple ways you can start improving your hair health right now.
The link between COVID-19 and hair loss
Scientific correlations do not always imply causality. However, a recent study published in The Lancet may hold the key to understanding the relationship between COVID-19 and hair loss.
The study looked at the health effects of COVID-19 in 1733 people who were discharged from Jin Yan-tan Hospital (Wuhan, China). After a 6-month examination following COVID-19 infection, scientists discovered that roughly 22% of the study population had hair loss.
Stress is a natural response to danger; nevertheless, some people, such as COVID-19, suffer from long-term chronic stress due to ordinary demands or traumatic circumstances.
Stress can cause hair follicles to enter an early resting phase (telogen), thus preventing new hair strands. It’s typical to lose 50 to 100 hairs a day, but anything more than that could be a sign of telogen effluvium.
Stress-induced telogen effluvium can result in the loss of more than 100 hairs each day, thinning hair significantly over time.
Infection-induced sequelae were seen in New York City, which was the epicenter of the novel virus. One significant symptom was new-onset generalized hair loss in COVID-19-infected patients, which was clinically consistent with telogen effluvium.
The case of ten female patients identified with COVID-19 in New York City was reported in the International Journal of Dermatology. Within weeks to months following infection, these women reported significant hair loss, with hair coming out in huge clumps and thinning along the frontal hairline.
What are your options to treat hair loss?
If you’re concerned about your hair loss, make an appointment with a healthcare specialist to determine the best treatment choice. Minoxidil and finasteride are the two most frequent FDA-approved hair loss treatments.
Minoxidil is available over the counter in most countries as a 2% or 5% solution for both men and women. On the other hand, finasteride is primarily given to men because it can cause hyperandrogenism in women.
While both therapies offer advantages, they are not without drawbacks, especially when using greater doses of minoxidil. Excessive facial hair growth may occur in certain users, which can be particularly unpleasant for female users.
Some people can’t use minoxidil because the synthetic components and stabilizers such as propylene glycol irritate their skin. Finasteride is generally well taken by males. However, it does have some side effects, including sexual dysfunction and depression.
You might want to check out alternatives to minoxidil.
If hair loss is causing you daily anxiety, make an appointment with a healthcare practitioner to examine the benefits and drawbacks:
- Laser therapy
- Hair transplant surgery
- Prescription hair loss medications
- Over the counter options
At home, there are a few simple things you can do to promote your hair’s health.
In most circumstances, once you’ve managed your stress, your hair will start to regrow in a matter of months. However, you must put your health and wellness first throughout this period, whether you’re dealing with an underlying condition or working through pressures.
Implementing stress management practices into your everyday routine is one of the finest places to start. Mindfulness, diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing,” and meditation are a few evidence-based stress management practices that can be gradually incorporated. Following workout tips can also help you relax.
This may be old news, but the body, like hair growth, needs appropriate nutrients to function efficiently. Hair structure and development can both be affected by a dietary shortage.
Specific deficits have been linked to weaker, more brittle hair, while others have been linked to hair loss, such as telogen effluvium.
The activity in the hair follicle is quite complex, comprising cells that require specific nutrients to function correctly. Furthermore, it is generally known that eating highly processed meals with low nutritional content can contribute to pro-inflammatory disorders, which can disrupt the hair growth cycle.
A proper nutritional shortage, of course, necessitates a medical diagnosis. But, before you reach for the supplements, try to limit your intake of highly processed foods (that can lead to diabetes which can also cause hair loss) and instead choose foods that are good for your hair:
- High-protein: Eggs, fish, lean meat, legumes
- Iron-rich: Green leafy vegetables (non-heme iron), red meats (heme iron), seafood
- Zinc: Shellfish, lean beef, legumes
- Fatty Acids: Fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), avocado, nuts, and seeds
- Antioxidants: Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, green tea
COVID-19 has taught the world to be prepared for the unexpected. Is hair loss, on the other hand, truly surprising? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, temporary hair loss is considered typical after a fever or sickness. When you feel the total stress that the epidemic has caused for most people, it’s no surprise that scientists are discovering links between COVID-19 and hair loss.
If you are concerned about hair loss, it may be worth scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
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