Post-Covid Hair Fall is real!
Covid causes a lot of acute physical and mental stress, which leads to significant hair loss.
Among the long-haul symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, cough, lung complications, gastric issues, and depression post-COVID-19 recovery, a lot of people are complaining of abnormal hair loss too. In fact, in some cases, hair loss has been observed even during the infection period. Physicians and dermatologists world-over admit a sudden surge in hair fall cases post the pandemic.
If anything, it further adds to the stress, and more stress means more hair fall.
Usually, this hair fall takes 2-4 months to settle, and this type of hair fall is called Telogen effluvium.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
This type of hair loss is more commonly seen in patients who’ve had viral infections, those who’ve gone through surgeries in the past, or those who suffer from acute stress.
Before I touch upon the term you need to understand that every single strand of hair on our head [hair follicle] goes through a Growth Cycle comprising of 3 stages.
Stages of Hair Growth Cycle
1. Anagen – This is the active or the growth stage of the hair. Scalp hair stay in this stage for 2 to 6 years. During this stage, cells in the root of the hair divide rapidly. These new cells are added to the base of the hair root and existing hair is pushed upwards due to which the hair grows longer. A new hair is formed that pushes the club hair (a hair that has stopped growing or is no longer in the anagen phase) up the follicle and eventually out.
2. Catagen – This is a transitional or regression stage and lasts for 2 to 3 weeks. About 3% of all hair are in this phase at any time. During this stage, the cells of the hair matrix stop dividing, hair growth stops, and the hair follicle begins to atrophy, forming the club hair.
3. Telogen – This is the resting and shedding stage and usually accounts for 6-8% of all hair. The stage roughly remains for 3 months for hair on the scalp but longer for hair on the eyebrow, eyelash, arm, and leg. During this stage, the hair follicle is at absolute rest and the club hair is completely formed. (Pulling out such hair will reveal a solid, hard, dry, white material at the root.) About 25 to 100 telogen hair are shed normally each day.
Following telogen, a new hair begins to grow in place of the old hair.
At any given point in time, about 85% of the scalp hair are in the anagen or the growth stage and remaining in the resting stage.
Whenever our body goes through some stress mechanism (physical or mental), a significant amount of our hair can end up in the telogen phase and start shedding off excessively. One can witness visible clumps of hair on hands when touched, over the pillow, brush or bathroom drain. This is the mechanism of telogen effluvium, and one can suffer up to 4 months of hair loss.
In an adult, hair loss of about 70 to 100 hair per day is considered to be normal and does not require any treatment. But if the rate of hair loss increases suddenly even if it is in the normal range or when the hair loss is greater than 100 hair per day, it is abnormal.
Usually, the hair lost during Covid-19 does settle after 4 to 5 months, but if it continues beyond 5 months, it definitely needs attention.
Other Causes of Hair Loss
- Radiation or Chemotherapy in cancer patients. However, after chemotherapy, hair re-growth can be seen.
- Age-related hair loss can be a male pattern or female pattern baldness.
- Genes can be the culprit if there is a family history of baldness.
- Females are more prone to hair loss due to various hormonal changes during puberty, post-delivery, and during menopause.
- Severe emotional trauma or stress can affect the Hypothalamus to cause certain hormonal imbalances leading to hair loss.
- Systemic illnesses such as Hyper/Hypothyroidism and Kidney disorders can cause hair loss. Certain skin conditions, such as Lichen Planopilaris and Psoriasis, can also cause an increase in hair fall.
- Rapid weight-loss diets that severely restrict calories or protein intake increase hair loss. Also, nutritional deficiency of certain nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, iron and zinc can increase hair loss.
Few Tips and Remedies for Hair Loss due to Covid, or Telogen Effluvium
A good nutritious diet along with exercise helps in maintaining the strength, shine, and healthy texture of hair.
- As hair is mainly made up of proteins, a protein diet that includes meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, soybean, etc. is helpful.
- Good iron intake will ensure an adequate supply of oxygen to the hair and help promote good hair growth. So, iron-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, dates, etc. should be included in your diet.
- Certain vitamins help in maintaining iron content and iron absorption. So, your regular diet should include a good source of folic acid and vitamin B12, such as eggs, soya, walnuts, and chickpeas.
- Vitamin E helps in an increased uptake of oxygen, thus helps in providing nourishment to the hair. Vitamin E rich foods include green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, vegetable oils, etc. Add these to your diet.
- Vitamin C and zinc help to build collagen, prevent hair loss and improve hair density and diameter.
- Hydration is equally important to ensure a good supply of nutrients to the hair follicles. So, an adequate intake of water is also important.
- Application of hair oil and gently massaging the scalp will help in stimulating the hair follicles to some extent. This will help in initiating the growth cycle of the hair follicles.
- Exercising helps with blood circulation and secretes endorphins — happy hormones — which enhance hair regrowth in the body.
- Botanical lotions like redensyl and lypsyl are useful applications for mild, moderate to severe hair fall after Covid.
- Applying Aloe vera, egg, onion juice, coconut or Jojoba oil have also been found useful in strengthening hair.
- Refrain from heat and chemicals for hairstyling for some time.
A sudden surge in hair loss cases brought on by the mental, physical and emotional rollercoaster of the pandemic is partly due to the effects of the virus and partly due to its emotional fallout. However, the good news is, that hair loss due to COVID-19 is not permanent.
The virus has affected each individual differently. While some cases had been asymptomatic, some have had few symptoms, a few needed hospitalization in a Covid Ward among unfamiliar faces or ‘PPE Robots’ (as they call it), away from any near ‘n’ dear ones, and some had to be put on the ventilators too. Each case is different and needs an individualized attention. Homoeopathy uses a holistic approach in treating these cases to abate the after-affects of the disease and heals the patient from within. It offers remedies like Thuja, Lycopodium, Acid phos, Phosphorus, Natrum mur, and Kali sulphuricum to name a few, for promising results when given on individualizing symptoms.
With a right combination of a well-selected Homoeopathic remedy and hair care, your hair can grow back fully.
In addition, mother tinctures of Arnica and Jaborandi mixed in coconut oil applied locally ensure a better hair quality and strength.
Improvement can be seen in 6 to 8 weeks.
According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the homoeopathic remedy Thuja promotes hair growth by inducing the anagen phase in resting hair follicles and is, therefore, a hair growth-promoting agent.