The impact of Covid-19 and the ongoing pandemic on hair loss.
There have been many reports in the press over recent months about people experiencing hair loss after contracting Covid-19. Our team of hair loss experts wanted to share their thoughts on Covid related hair loss and stress. We have also been privileged to be able to talk to one of our clients about their own experience of hair loss during the pandemic.
There is certainly evidence to suggest that there is a link between Covid and hair loss. But with many reports in the news being anecdotal finding research that corroborates this is difficult. This is partly because the virus itself is so new and also because research is not focused on the less acute symptoms of Covid.
Could Covid related hair loss actually be Telogen Effluvium (TE)?
Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss very often caused by severe illness, such as COVID-19, or stress. It is normal to shed as many as 150 hairs each day. However telogen effluvium occurs when there is a noticeable and significant increase in hair loss. The hair loss can be very sudden and usually around 3 months after being triggered by illness or a stressful event.
Telogen effluvium occurs when something disrupts the normal life cycle of hair and is usually due to physical stresses on the body. Such as:
- infections associated with a high fever, like the flu or COVID-19
- major surgery
- starting new medication
- illness associated with weight loss or that uses up protein stores in the body
- significant or stressful life event
When does Telogen Effluvium typically occur?
It is usually up to 3 months after an event like this that a person notices the hair loss. Significant illness can cause a disruption to the natural hair cycle. This disruption pushes more hair follicles to the ‘shedding phase’ as opposed to ‘growing phase’. And means that some people experience hair loss several months after falling ill.
Whilst hair loss is not listed as one of the official symptoms of COVID-19 one significant symptom is a high fever. Therefore hair loss, Telogen Effluvium, is not surprising several months after a person has had Covid.
Stress and hair loss
Hair Solved know that stress is often a trigger for hair loss see many clients whose hair loss has been caused or worsened by stress and anxiety. Living during the pandemic has been unbelievably stressful for everyone. And even if someone hasn’t contracted Covid the stress of the pandemic could lead to hair loss several months after the heightened stress levels began.
This is because significant and stressful life events can cause physical stress on the body and damage the natural hair cycle. So, everything from fear of contracting Covid, to working from home or being furloughed to quarantining caused people to feel heightened stressed levels.
We feel very privileged to be able to share a recent interview with our client, Fiona, who has Alopecia. Whilst Fiona had been experiencing hair loss for some time prior to the pandemic her heightened stress levels had a significant effect on her hair.
The year of Covid
“I have experienced hair loss now for six years and I have had hair loss over these years with some regrowth but when my hair loss truly started was at the beginning of 2020; obviously the year of Covid and everything else associated with the pandemic.
I would say that my stress and anxiety levels were a lot higher than what you would have in a typical year. GP’s couldn’t see me and they were far too busy. I didn’t feel that my Alopecia and my hair loss was important enough to contact anyone. And because I thought “we are in the middle of a pandemic and my hair loss isn’t affecting my health, maybe my mental health, but not my health”.
I didn’t speak to anyone
I didn’t speak to anyone about it and I suffered in silence. My family suffered because of my depression and anxiety about it. I was particularly anxious because I didn’t know what was happening with work. You see I worked in a school. I was due to go back to work after maternity leave which was causing me an awful lot of stress as it was. I really didn’t want to go back and then we had the full lock down.
My hair loss started again in February 2020. I relied on Amazon because nowhere was open; wig shops were closed, there were no consultants. Eventually I managed to see a dermatologist online and she couldn’t even examine me properly. It was very expensive and there were no results. Truthfully it was such an awful time for me and for anyone suffering from hair loss.
Covid and the pandemic in general had such a massive impact on people with hair loss.
Five months is a long time when you’re losing your hair
I didn’t contact Hair Solved until July, which was five months later. That is a long time when you are losing your hair.
But when I went to Hair Solved in July 2020 and had my first hair system my mental health literally went from zero to ten. I remember crying with happiness and thinking this is taken care of. It is solved, just like Hair Solved. It is not a problem I have to worry about anymore, it is fixed, it is gone, and it is taken care of.
Covid, the pandemic and my hair loss
I do honestly believe that Covid played a massive part in the extent of my hair loss. I know the pandemic was hard for everyone. But bearing in mind my family are in Northern Ireland and I didn’t see them for 20 months, over a year and a half. I was at home, my husband was working from home, but I was there with my two children, one a baby.
A stressful and anxious time
At this point I didn’t know what was happening about me going back to work. Which in itself, take Covid away from that, is such a stressful and anxious time for any new mum. But I had the pandemic on top of that. I couldn’t go anywhere; I was stuck within my four walls. All of the psychological impact of Covid had more of an impact on my hair loss than actually having Covid.
I do know women who have had Covid and have lost their hair as a result of it or as a symptom and everyone is different, but this is my personal experience.”
We are so grateful to Fiona, a client at Hair Solved Manchester, for sharing her personal experience of Covid and hair loss with us. You can follow her inspiring and informative Instagram account Life.in.Patches here
Does hair grow back after having Telogen Effluvium?
In our own experience the answer is yes it is highly likely. If someone experienced hair loss after contracting an infection or a virus such as COVID-19 or experienced heightened stress levels the hair will return to normal growth once new hairs replace the shedding hair.
Fiona has experienced significant regrowth in the last few months as her stress levels have decreased.
Recent research developments
In a recent study hair loss was identified as long-term symptom of coronavirus, With women somewhat surprisingly being most at risk. Nearly a quarter of COVID-19 patients suffered from hair loss within six months of infection. The study also found that fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and joint pain were “primary long-term symptoms” of the virus. Alongside hair loss. It was published in the medical journal The Lancet
The research also noted that being a woman and the severity of illness from the virus were also risk factors that could lead to “persistent psychological problems” such as stress and anxiety.
How can Hair Solved help combat the impact of Covid and hair loss?
Our Enhancer System is suitable for all types of hair loss, partial, total or thinning hair. Our hair loss system is incredibly safe as it’s non-invasive and non-surgical. We don’t use any hot glue or wax to attach the hair to the head. Instead we attach the hair extensions to the mesh, so that they mirror the look and natural fall of hair.
You can read more about the system here The Enhancer System