Testing negative is only one end of the battle won after fighting coronavirus. As has become evident, there can be a deluge of post-COVID complications and long COVID symptoms which can continue to impact patients. While a lot of the symptoms are said to be lingering remnants of the viral spread (such as body ache, weakness, cough and shortness of breath), excessive hair fall can, too, be a complicated symptom fuelled by the virus itself.
“Hair loss is super emotional. People shed more tears over hair loss than any other condition, including skin cancer.”
Doctors are now reporting a rise in people with hair fall complaints. Apart from skin-related issues such as dryness, watery eyes and rashes, hair fall is a concerning 'side-effect' many can face after recovering from COVID-19.
When there’s a shock to the system, the body goes into lockdown mode and only focuses on essential functions. Hair growth is not as essential as other functions, so you end up with hair shedding.
The Hair Cycle:
Hair growth may appear like a simple daily process. However, our body consists of multiple processes to give rise to a single hair, depending upon age, nutrition, and overall health. The hair growth cycle consists of four distinct phases each having its timeline. The first three phases - anagen, catagen, and telogen are concerned with the growth and maturation of hair. It results in hair production. The fourth stage - exogen involves the shedding of old hairs to make the new hair ready for replacement.
People typically lose up to 100 HAIR PER DAY. Telogen effluvium can cause around 300 strands to fall out every day for up to 6 months. The good news is that Telogen effluvium is temporary, and the hair will eventually grow back. However, it may take a while for your hair to achieve its original fullness and length- an experience that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
Causes of hairfall During and After Covid:
Weakened Immune System
Our immune system is a remarkable controller of several functions in our body. While it's primarily associated with how healthy or chronically susceptible to illness one would be, our immune system could also hold clues to hair health. Most particularly, a depletion in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D levels, which are crucial for good hair and skin health can also lead to excessive hair fall.
Thus, with a dip in immunity, and other causative factors, there can be some level of damage to your hair, or post-COVID, when the body's immunity is still recovering in a way, hair loss can be common.
With the SARS-COV-2 virus, which is known to be gravely impactful on the body's vital organs, there can be a high level of inflammation present in the body, that can lead to side-effects in the long run. The inflammation and acute infection can interrupt the growth of hair follicles on the scalp and thus push the hair into the 'dead' phase, making you shed that hair.
The sudden onset of hair loss — Telogen effluvium — is caused majorly due to stress, nutritional deficiency and inflammatory reactions caused by the infectious disease. COVID undoubtedly provokes an enormous amount of stress that would trigger Telogen effluvium. This is a kind of a 'shock' the body sustains while suffering from fever and COVID symptoms for a relatively long period (14-21 days). It is primarily resultant of stress and related inflammation is termed as a sudden onset of hair loss- meaning that this can strike even those who are young and healthy, and not at a generalized risk for hairfall.
Stress may be to blame
Emotional distress, major surgery, or high fevershifts more of a person’s hair to the Telogen, or resting phase, of the hair growth cycle, which ultimately leads to losing hair. Hair grows slowly, so you may not necessarily have voluptuous regrowth the first couple months after telogen effluvium is resolving. Here are a few tips to boost up your health and wellness post Covid.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE HAIR HEALTH
MANAGE YOUR DIET WELL:
During the post Covid-19 recovery, people must consume a nutritious diet along with natural edible sources of vitamins and iron.
- It is recommended to consume a healthy nutritious diet along with natural edible sources of vitamins (including vitamin D and B12), lots of proteins, and iron during the post-COVID-19 recovery phase.
- Sources like eggs, chicken, fish, green leafy vegetables, yogurt, soybean, and paneer may serve the needs of nutrients.
- Iron deficiency may itself accelerate further hair loss. Hence one may also opt for a nutritional supplement to aid the demands of the body.
- Besides eating healthy and taking nutritional supplements, one should evade from a sedentary lifestyle and engage in regular exercise to promote circulation and body functions.
- Avoid stress; engage in relaxation techniques like meditation.
- Have a proper sleep everyday.
- If the hair loss prevails for more than 5-6 weeks, despite taking all the necessary measures, it is advised to consult a doctor.
MANAGE YOUR TRESS WELL:
Common hair care solutions that can be administered to avoid an excessive hair loss are:
- Use of mild, paraben and sulphate free shampoos and haircare products.
- Keeping a close check on the itchy and flaky scalp.
- Seeking immediate medical intervention in case of development of bald patches and getting huge volumes of hair fall.
- Refraining from oiling or conditioning the scalp too much.
- Using a wide-toothed comb that doesn't irritate the hair follicles.
- Avoid aggressive hairstyling equipment, heat, and chemicals for hair.