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Is Post-Covid Hair Loss a Result of Illness-Related Stress?

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many grappling with various challenges, both physical and mental. Beyond the respiratory impact, a surprising side effect is emerging: hair loss. It’s crucial to understand that the virus itself may not be the direct cause. Instead, researchers explore the possibility that post-COVID hair loss is linked to illness-related stress.

The Complex Relationship between COVID-19 and Hair Loss

Hair loss post-COVID is increasingly reported among both men and women. This condition, known as telogen effluvium, is a form of temporary hair loss triggered by a shock to the system. Though the mechanisms are not fully understood, stress endured during a severe illness like COVID-19 could be the catalyst.

Understanding Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium involves a significant number of hair follicles prematurely entering the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, leading to excessive shedding. Typically, only 10 to 15 percent of hair follicles are in the resting phase. During telogen effluvium, a larger percentage enters this phase, causing noticeable hair loss during routine activities.

Stress's Role in Hair Loss

Stress impacts overall health, including hair health, through hormonal changes triggered by stress. Intense stress prompts the body to produce higher levels of cortisol, disrupting the normal hair growth cycle.

The "Long Haulers" Phenomenon

Some COVID-19 survivors, referred to as “long haulers,” continue to experience hair loss beyond the acute phase. Even after testing negative, ongoing stress and inflammation may be responsible for prolonged hair loss.

Managing Hair Loss and Alleviating Stress

If facing hair loss post-COVID, recognize this condition is typically temporary, and regrowth is likely. Consider the following steps:

  1. Practice Stress-Relief Techniques: Engage in activities like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or spending time in nature to lower cortisol levels and alleviate stress impact on your hair.
  2. Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet includes essential nutrients for healthy hair growth, such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Be Gentle with Your Hair: Avoid tight hairstyles and excessive heat or chemical treatments. Treat your hair gently and use mild hair care products.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If concerned, consult a dermatologist or trichologist specializing in hair and scalp health for personalized advice and treatment options.

Experiencing hair loss after a COVID-19 illness can be unsettling, but it’s often temporary. Address stress levels and adopt a healthy lifestyle to support recovery and encourage regrowth. Seek professional help if needed, and practice patience and self-care during this challenging time.

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