In the recent months I have seen a surge in the cases of hair fall particularly in patients who had recently suffered from the COVID infection.
In this post I shall list the common causes of hair fall and specially the causes of hair fall after COVID infection .
First of all let us learn about how healthy hair grows .
THE CYCLE OF HAIR GROWTH
Our hair usually grows anywhere from 0.3 mm to 0.4 mm in length everyday. The growth of the hair follicle is divided in to 4 different stages .
Anagen – Hair grows The growing phase takes two to seven years and regulates the length of our hair. Anagen is the active phase of the hair
Catagen – Hair transition -This is the transitional stage that lasts about ten days. The hair follicle contracts and removes from the dermal papilla. The catagen phase is a transitional stage and around 3% of all hairs are in this phase at any time. Growth stops and the outer root sheath shrink and attaches to the root of the hair. The hair separates from the hair root and travels up in the scalp. This is the development of what is identified as a club hair.
Telogen – Hair rests This is the relaxing phase which lasts about three months and for hairs on the scalp and lengthier for hairs on the eyebrow, eyelash, arm, and leg. About 10-15 percent of hairs are in this phase. Whereas the old hair is resting, a new hair instigates the development phase. Dragging out a hair in this phase will expose a solid, dry, hard, white material at the root. About 25 to 100 telogen hairs are shed usually every day.
Exogen – Hair falls out and new hair This is portion of the resting phase where the old hair sheds and a fresh hair endures to develop. About 50 to 150 hairs can fall out daily
Common Causes of HAIR FALL
1.Stress – Sleep deprivation , mental stress or even dieting are considered stressful periods for the body and may trigger hair fall
2.Sickness – Any serious illness lasting more than than a week and causing weakness can make the hair go into Telogen phase prematurely and cause hair loss. The hair fall becomes evident only after 3 weeks to 3 months after the illness. This is commonly seen after fevers, surgeries, severe blood loss, extensive burns , diarrheas etc.
3.Hormonal Imbalance – Common causes of hair loss due to sudden change in hormones are pregnancy , menopause, PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome )
4.Nutritional deficiencies – Lack of protein , Vitamin C , Iron and other micronutrients can cause poor quality of hair and that can lead to hair loss.
5.Chemical Treatments – Straightening , keratin treatments, coloring are some common chemical treatments that can weaken the hair shaft and cause more hair fall.
6.Scalp infections – Sometimes infections of the scalp like Tinea capitis, Pityriasis Simplex Capitis,Malassezia furfur infections can cause small painful boils on the head, or give an itchy and irritated scalp ,or cause dandruff and result in hair fall. These can be more rampant post-COVID because COVID infection weakens the body’s defenses.
Scalp infections are common in warm humid climate ,in people who sweat more or people who have oily scalps. Improper hair hygiene can also lead to infections and hair fall.
Causes of POST COVID HAIR FALL
It has been postulated that COVID can trigger a condition called Telogen Effluvium where a large percentage of hair go prematurely into the Telogen phase (the resting phase )of the hair cycle. Telogen Effluvium can lead to hair fall that starts about 6 weeks to 3 months after the COVID infection and may continue for three months or more.
The mechanism of action is still not well understood but certain risk factors have been associated with increased hair fall post-COVID infection.
1. Diabetes – People already suffering from Diabetes Mellitus , can have increased risk of scalp infections and more hair fall.
2. Hormonal Imbalance People with Hypothyroid or other hormonal imbalance like PCOD or lactating mothers can experience more hairball post-COVID.
3. Nutritional deficiency – Anemia and Vitamin B and C deficiency can increase the Hair fall post COVID infection.
4. Steroids – People with severe COVID infection , who have been on steroids and antibiotics may see an increased incidence of hair loss post COVID .
5. Severe COVID infection – Compared to Asymptomatic cases, the cases where the COVID infection was moderately symptomatic (fever , cough ,diarrhea and breathlessness ) to severe needing oxygen support or/and hospitalization , have reported more massive hair loss.
How To Deal with POST COVID HAIR FALL
1. DO NOT PANIC -Hair fall after a COVID infection can be treated and you may be able to regain most of your hair density with timely treatment.
2. Take a balanced diet –A diet rich in antioxidants like citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers, green leafy vegetables, flax seeds and lean protein like fish , chicken, egg whites and lentils will help in improving your nutritional status.
3. Hair Care – Do not keep switching shampoos and hair oils to control hair fall .It does not help the POST COVID hair fall much because mostly the causative factors are internal. But do continue washing your hair with mild pH balanced shampoo and comb your hair with a wide toothed hair brush and detangle them daily.
4.Consult a doctor – An experienced doctor or a Trichologist ( a hair specialist) can assess the hair fall by a thorough scalp examination .The doctor may also recommend a few tests to determine the nutritional status and other causes that may aggravate the hair fall.
Homeopathy has been very effective in dealing with post COVID hair fall .It helps in rebuilding the body’s immunity and improving nutritional status by ensuring detoxification and better absorption of nutrients. In fact , after a long course of Paracetamol, antibiotics and steroids, Homeopathy is the safest and best treatment to opt for post COVID Hair loss.
To conclude, increased hair fall is a common after-effect of COVID infection but it can be treated with the right medicines and regimen.
Just don’t wait till it is too late !
(Pic courtesy -Canva.com and Pexels.com)