Right now, we are living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic caused by a type of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Millions of people around the world have been infected by it. Thousands have died. After a lot of extensive research, major clinical features of this disease have been listed which include fever, cough, fatigue, muscle pain, anosmia (complete or partial loss of smell), and ageusia (complete loss of taste).
However, with increasing knowledge and research on the survivors of this pandemic, it has been observed that there are many more symptoms that the survivors have faced. Notwithstanding endless misfortunes created by COVID-19, losing hair can be one of them. It’s detrimental to your confidence, but is the fear baseless?
What does the research say?
According to the COVID-19 Long-Hauler symptoms survey report done by Dr. Natalie Lambert, of Indiana University School of Medicine, it has been reported that there are many other symptoms other than the primary symptoms. The survey was done on 1567+ survivors.
The result of the survey showed that symptoms are far more numerous than what we have known or what has been documented so far. Talking about hair loss; 423 out of 1567 respondents reported hair loss more than normal according to this survey. The survey also divided symptoms into 4 quarters. According to that, hair loss in COVID-19 survivors was found in the very first quarter after they have recovered from the disease.
Actress Alysa Milano, the survivor of COVID 19 stated in her tweet that 65% of COVID-19 survivors surveyed report hair loss, among other long-term complications caused by this disease. She also recorded a video of herself showing the hair loss she had been facing after recovering from the pandemic. She posted a video on her tweeter showing large clumps of hair coming out with her hairbrush when she brushed her wet hair.
Another research was done by The Lancet on the topic of “6 months consequences of COVID-19 in survivors discharged from hospital”. It was a cohort study done on 2469 patients of COVID-19 survivors who were discharged from Jin Yin Tan hospital between Jan 7 and May 29, 2020. 736 patients were excluded because they could not follow the appointments for several reasons. It was noted that many people show different symptoms that vary from person to person.
Some suffered from anxiety and depression, others suffered from fatigue and weight loss. Among these were also those who suffered from hair loss which was immense among those who had minor hair loss before the disease. Hair loss was also evident among those survivors who suffered a lot of stress during the disease.
What could be the reason for hair loss?
The clinical term for temporary hair loss is’ telogen effluvium’. It is a condition in which there is temporary hair loss after some stress or shock to the system. In this condition, hair enters a resting stage for a prolonged period of time.
By and large, this increase in hair loss might be one of the ways by which the body responds to the changes happening inside it. There are many potential triggers for this: the use of medications like antitoxins and some stress calming drugs, hair dye, as a rule, medical procedures, physical and mental pressure, and grieving. Also, weight reduction, stress, and less intake of necessary nutrients can result in hair loss.
Moreover, the pathological processes going on in the body can also result in hair loss.
Stress out of all reasons is the main cause of hair loss in survivors. We have all noted that whenever we go through any kind of stress our hair fall increases. The same occurs with COVID-19 survivors after months of stressful events.
The stress could be in the form of worrying about their survival, the stress of heavy medication, the stress of staying away from their family, the stress of needles, the stress of undergoing any major surgery, and many other causes.
Whenever our body goes through some major stress in the form of fever or any other disease, the body goes into shutdown mode. This means that the body shuts down all systems except the ones which are necessary for the body. Hair growth is not an essential function for the body as much as the functioning of the heart and brain. So, the body just focuses on the brain, heart, and lungs and sufferers end up having hair fall.
When does this happen?
From what has been noticed, it appears that hair loss happens right on time around two months after recovering from COVID-19 when compared with different circumstances that can likewise be triggers for the condition. There are phases of hair growth. During stress, hair goes into the resting phase, i.e. telogen phase.
Hair stays in the resting phase for 2 to 3 months before finally shedding and then starting with a new phase of hair growth. That is why hair loss is among the first few symptoms faced by the survivors. As shown in the above research, hair loss is among the symptoms of the very first quarter faced by survivors.
How to cope with hair loss due to COVID-19?
Understanding the cause of hair loss is the basic step. Do you know whom to consult for that? Yes, your dermatologist! A dermatologist will rule out causes other than COVID-19. He will come up with a perfect plan to help you grow your hair back. Here are the possible plans for management:
- If hair loss is due to any medication, then the doctor can suggest you change your medication or stop using it for a few months.
- If there is an underlying medical condition, getting it treated would also help your hair grow back.
- If it is due to any mental or physical stress, there are various coping strategies that you can adopt to deal with it. Moreover, it is not a bad idea to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist to learn about these helpful strategies.
- If it is due to lack of sleep, lack of essential nutrition, or any other cause, adopt a healthy lifestyle with the consumption of nutritious food enriched with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. You should increase the intake of fruits and fresh juices.
Hence, from the research pouring in, we have known that COVID-19 can result in hair loss among survivors due to multiple stressful factors associated with it. This hair loss is mostly temporary.
Ultimately, your hair will grow back with proper care and medications, sometimes. All you need is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. And most importantly: stay in touch with your dermatologist!