Updated: Feb 11
Does COVID19 affect hair health?
Various healthcare services have reported patients who have developed extensive loss of hair following recovery from COVID-19 disease. Many individuals have reported to clinics after several months following recovery from this infectious disease. Of these, there are a large number of people who have found that loss of hair is occurring in the form of huge clumps. This appears to be an unexpected symptom like many others that have been observed in patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19 infection. Although if one observed data from various healthcare units including Centric Healthcare, it is not so unexpected to find the loss of hairs in these patients. Most dermatology units situated in healthcare centers have reported a minimum of 25 percent of the rise in cases of patients who have reported a significant loss of hair.
What is the association of COVID19 with loss of hair?
What most individuals think of hair loss is in real terms 'shedding of hairs’. The ideal medical terminology used for this variety of shedding of hairs has been termed as ‘telogen effluvium'. This will happen whenever more than a normal amount of hairs make an entry in this shedding or telogen phase of the life-cycle of growth of hair at the same time. An episode of fever and associated illness eventually force greater numbers of hairs in this phase to shed off.
Hairs’ growth or life cycle has different phases or stages. Telogen Effluvium occurs whenever any stressor agent results in a stoppage of growth of excess amounts of hair that can then; enter into ‘resting or telogen phase.
In this telogenic phase, the hair rests for about two to three months before shedding from one’s scalp to allow new growth of hair. This explains the long period that ensues in telogen effluvium following any stressful event that triggers this phenomenon. For example, an illness or an extremely highly stressful time.
Most of the time, people observe visible levels of shedding of hair about 2 to 3 months following fever and illness. A large handful of hairs might be coming out whenever one showers or brushes their hair. This process of shedding hair may last for a period between 6 to 9 months before stopping. Most of the time, individuals can observe that the health of their hair starts to appear normal all over again as well as there is a reduced frequency of hair loss.
At present, there is a lack of evidence that directly links the loss of hair and SARS-CoV-2 thereby, ruling out the possibility that this virus may cause loss of hair. For a very long time, doctors have believed that physical, as well as emotional stressors that usually accompany infection with COVID-19, may result in a reversible type of condition which results in loss of hair. This has been termed as “Telogen effluvium”. This particular hair-related condition has been shown to express itself following some months of any stressful event like emotional distress, major surgeries, and/or high fever.
Whenever any condition resembling a shock is given to one’s body’s systems, the entire human body will go into lock-down of functions. Then, the body's systems will only focus on vital functions. Growth of hair is not an essential function as compared to other systems; hence, this can explain the excessive shedding of hair following a stressful event after COVID-19 infection.
‘Telogen effluvium’ induced by various types of stresses may be characteristically diagnosed by using the gradual process of eliminating other possible reasons underlying rapid loss of hair. Doctors may perform a variety of blood tests to rule out any ailment related to the thyroid gland or deficiencies associated with nutrition as either of these may result in a greater amount of loss of hair. In addition, the attending healthcare experts also analyze a particular patient's recent history for ruling out any stressful event in the recent past that may include one's hospitalization due to COVID-19 during the past few months.
However, it has been observed by Centric Healthcare services that men who suffer most from various patterns of baldness had likely tested ‘positive’ for COVID-19 infection.
How can hair loss due to COVID-19 be cured?
The good news concerning “telogen effluvium” is its temporary nature and one must understand that the growth of hair is gradual and returns completely although a certain period may be required for the hair to achieve original fullness and length.
Hair will grow at a slow pace for this, a person must not show a voluptuous amount of hair re-growth in the first few months as “telogen effluvium” shows resolution. Getting a quick hair growth back may take up to six months to one year during the treatment-associated timeline.
Most of the time, people diagnosed with ‘telogen effluvium’ might have the temptation of trying various supplements as well as products that can aid in the regrowth of hair. These hair growth promoting products are freely available on shelves of drug stores or wellness sections of malls. However, the use of these products might not give the desired results as people generally believe and can further contribute to stress. One must understand that most of these supplements or products have no scientific backing and hence, fail to give the required results most of the time.
Hence, patients must attempt to understand the concept underlying the pathology of telogen effluvium. Patients must also be able to understand the fact that hair growth will return to normal. All healthcare services must ensure that the stress generated as a result of hair loss is in itself a major part of the problem and must be taken care of by providing reassurance to patients that hair will grow back and they will not become bald.
How can our healthcare services help in tackling the loss of hair due to COVID19?
Centric Healthcare can help individuals having extensive hair fall after COVID-19 infection by providing consultations with trained dermatologists who specialize in Trichology or the study of hair. These doctors will help in determining whether the loss of hair in your case is natural and accompanies the aging process or if there is any health-related pre-existing condition associated with loss of hair.
These specialists will often take a detailed medical history that includes questions regarding one’s familial history related to hair loss or balding, any previously existing health-related issues, drug history concerning any medications one must be prescribed, method of grooming one’s hair, dietary habits, and type or adequateness of one’s diet, by performing detailed general physical hair health examination and microscopic examination of one’s hair and by performing various investigations on blood to rule out any underlying causes.
Our hair specialists also encourage changes in the methods of grooming hair like combing, wearing certain types of hairstyles, and avoiding certain treatments that can cause hair damage.