Is Post-Covid Hair Loss a Result of Illness-Related Stress?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of challenges, both physically and mentally, for those affected. While the virus primarily affects the respiratory system, emerging reports suggest that some survivors are experiencing an unexpected side effect: hair loss. Losing hair can be distressing, but it’s important to understand that this phenomenon may not be directly caused by the virus itself. Instead, researchers believe that the cause could be due to stress related to the illness.
The Link between COVID-19 and Hair Loss
Reports of hair loss post-COVID have become more common, with both men and women experiencing this troubling issue. This condition, known as telogen effluvium, is a form of temporary hair loss caused by a shock to the system. While the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, it is believed that the stress associated with battling a severe illness like COVID-19 could be the trigger.
Telogen effluvium occurs when a significant number of hair follicles prematurely enter the telogen (resting) phase of the hair growth cycle, leading to excessive hair shedding. Typically, around 10 to 15 percent of our hair follicles are in the telogen phase at any given time. However, during telogen effluvium, a much larger percentage can enter this phase simultaneously. As a result, when affected individuals wash or brush their hair, they may notice clumps of hair falling out.
The Role of Stress
Stress has long been known to impact our overall health, and hair health is no exception. The connection between stress and hair loss lies in the hormonal changes that occur when we experience stress. During periods of intense stress, the body produces higher levels of cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle and push more hair follicles into the resting phase.
The “Long Haulers” Phenomenon
For some COVID-19 survivors, the hair loss issue persists beyond the acute phase of the illness, even after recovery. These individuals, often referred to as “long haulers,” continue to experience lingering symptoms long after testing negative for the virus. The prolonged nature of this condition indicates that ongoing stress and inflammation could be responsible for the persistent hair loss.
Addressing Hair Loss and Reducing Stress
If you’re experiencing hair loss after COVID-19, it’s essential to remember that this condition is typically temporary, and your hair will likely regrow over time. However, there are several steps you can take to promote hair health and reduce stress levels:
- Practice Stress-Relief Techniques: Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or spending time in nature. These activities can help lower cortisol levels and mitigate the impact of stress on your hair.
- Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs for healthy hair growth. Include plenty of protein, iron, zinc, vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
- Be Gentle with Your Hair: Avoid tight hairstyles and excessive heat or chemical treatments that can further stress your hair. Treat it gently and use mild hair care products.
- Seek Professional Help: If you’re concerned about your hair loss, consult a dermatologist or trichologist who specializes in hair and scalp health. They can provide personalized advice and treatment options.
Experiencing hair loss after a COVID-19 illness can be unsettling, but it’s essential to remember that this issue is often temporary. The stress associated with the illness, as well as the lingering effects of “long haulers,” can contribute to hair shedding. By addressing stress levels and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can support your body’s recovery and promote hair regrowth. If you have concerns about your hair loss, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, patience and self-care are key during this challenging time.
At Glojas, we welcome clients to reach out to us directly to schedule a free initial consultation. We offer guidance and valuable insights on how best to address your specific challenges. Let us assist you in navigating your journey with confidence and clarity.