When you think about it, it seems surreal that a 60-140 nanometers (nm) virus has brought the world to its knees. The repercussions of the novel coronavirus have been daunting. Although there much that’s yet to be known about this virus, it’s has caused many problems in those who have been infected by it. Something that many people who have recovered with COVID-19 have noticed is that they start losing their hair. However, what’s causing COVID hair loss and is it permanent?
Coronavirus Symptoms and Spread
A lot of us take our hair for granted; never imagine losing them. However, when you lose them, in times like these, it ends up adding to your stress. The unpredictability of this virus is also quite nerve-racking. Most of us are aware of its symptoms by now:
- Dry cough
- High fever
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of smell and taste
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can also vary depending on the severity of the illness. What’s alarming is that even mild symptoms of this virus can cause serious brain disorders. It not only affects the lungs but also causes the formation of blood clots in the vessels. Even children are vulnerable. A rare inflammatory response called multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) has been reported among them. Those who have an underlying medical condition are at a greater risk, as are those who are older.
A link between the development of autoimmune disorders and COVID has also been found, where people have developed Guillain–Barré syndrome, hemolytic anemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and diabetes, among others. According to NIH, it could be a result of the inflammation caused by the virus.
Close contact with an infected individual is largely responsible for the transmission of this virus from one person to another. The respiratory droplets can find their way to your eyes, mouth, or nose if the infected individual sneezes, coughs, breathes heavily, or sprays spittle while talking.
Worse yet, even after the SARS-CoV-2 enters the body, our immune system doesn’t become aware of its presence for a while. A cell infected by a virus releases a group of proteins called interferons to alert the neighbouring cells. However, nothing like that happens when this virus attacks the body allowing its rampant spread.
What is Post-COVID Fatigue Syndrome?
For some people, the coronavirus is persistently making them suffer. Even after recovering from the infection and developing antibodies to it, some are experiencing “chronic exhaustion, pressure in the lungs, difficulty breathing” for more than a month at times. These symptoms can come and go, leaving them stuck in a coronavirus limbo.
According to a report of the National Institute for Health Research, four different syndromes can affect the sufferers of long COVID, including pre-intensive-care and post-viral fatigue syndrome. Individuals infected with the novel coronavirus can also develop scarring inside their lungs.
On performing any physical activity, they get easily and soon out of breath. The British Medical Association has called long COVID an “occupational health issue.” The virus can also cause permanent damage to the organs.
Times are hard, and we need to practice more empathy. Everyone needs to shoulder greater responsibility. You can create a difference by following the health and safety guidelines against the coronavirus. Practising social distancing, using a hand sanitiser with more than 60% alcohol, and, most importantly, wearing a mask are some things that every one of us needs to do. Through our collective effort, we can ensure a speedy recovery from this pandemic.
What Are the Causes of COVID Hair Loss
Survivor Corps, a group on Facebook of the COVID-19 survivors, found in a survey of 3,900 respondents that 32% of them experienced hair loss. It was ranked as 21 out of 101 COVID-19 symptoms on the survey. So, what’s causing COVID hair loss? It may be because of the following reasons:
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), illness or fever can result in a kind of hair loss known as telogen effluvium.
So far, from what we know, the coronavirus doesn’t directly damage the hair follicles. However, the stress it puts on the body can which is the reason behind the COVID hair loss. A lot of the hair in the growing phase enter the resting phase and is shed a few months after.
This is why COVID hair loss has been reported by a lot of people who’ve already recovered from it. This kind of hair loss takes place 3 months later and last for as long as 6 months.
Those who aren’t affected may feel scared of contracting the virus almost all the time. Of course, this can take a toll on the emotional and physical health of the individual. Many people who learned that they tested positive for the coronavirus went through severe anxiety, thinking about the possible consequence of the illness.
Being alone during this time can fill one with even more dread. The shunning and isolation of the coronavirus infected individual are painful and sad. It can make them feel depressed. This kind of stress can also cause COVID hair loss, and it also results in telogen effluvium.
Many people have lost their loved ones. Moreover, the large-scale worker layoffs and growing unemployment can make you worry even more. This will only exacerbate the degree of COVID hair loss. Those who’ve undergone surgery, are suffering from a serious ailment, or have experienced something stressful can lose hair because of telogen effluvium.
Since COVID has been linked to the development of autoimmune conditions, it can be responsible for hair loss that happens because of them. One kind of hair loss that results due to immune system problems is alopecia areata. Lupus, diabetes, and iron deficiency can all result in COVID hair loss.
Is COVID Hair Loss Permanent?
COVID hair loss is only temporary. Since it usually occurs because of telogen effluvium, you’ll start growing your hair back after 3-6 months. It’s normal to lose 50-100 strands of hair in one day. But the rate of hair loss in this condition is more than the rate of growth. You can lose up to 300 strands in one day. So, do your best to take care of your hair.
COVID hair loss resulting from autoimmune conditions can be permanent in some cases. It’s best to get checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
Hair Loss After COVID: What To Do?
Here are a few tips that you can follow in dealing with hair falling out after COVID. We hope that these can help you to take better care of your hair.
Be Calm and Get in Touch with A Doctor
Telogen effluvium is not permanent. At most, it can take a year for you to recover from it. You should try to stay indoors during the pandemic to protect yourself and others from the virus. Although it’s difficult to stay calm and stress-free, you should try to do so by practising yoga.
Moreover, try to keep a check on your health and get in touch with a doctor if you’re feeling unwell. You need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This might make things better for you.
Plasma-rich platelet protein is driven from the red blood cells of the individual undergoing the treatment. These proteins can help promote healing in the area where injected. PRP therapy is very popular and effective for stimulating hair growth and can even support the growth of new hair.
Sometimes people are suffering from iron, mineral, and vitamin deficiencies, among others, without even realising. This can also cause COVID hair loss. Pair it with the stress of coronavirus, and you might experience a greater loss of hair. Vitamins, protein, zinc, and iron can promote the health of your hair. However, make sure that you consume them when/if needed.
Longevita does not recommend you to take supplements without the consultation of a doctor. That’s because the consumption of supplements is useful for those who are suffering from a deficiency. An overdose of supplements is harmful, so you need to find out if you have a deficiency or not
This is one of the best things to do. A healthy diet can boost your immune system, which can provide greater protection against the virus. With more time in your hands, you can switch from eating takeout frequently to homemade food, which is far healthier.
Sugary, processed, and high-sodium foods will not do you any good. You can start making healthy choices from this very minute. We are what we eat, after all. Make sure to eat a balanced diet with proteins, carbohydrates, and good fats.
Vegetables are, of course, a must. Greasy, junk-food, you should avoid them at all costs. Also, you should decrease your alcohol intake as it can negatively impact your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable. Lastly, don’t eat a few hours before getting into bed and take a good night’s rest. Sleep is your best friend. All these things can help with COVID hair loss.
There is a link between COVID and hair. It may be because of telogen effluvium or autoimmune conditions. Although it is worrisome, fortunately, your hair can grow back within a year (if it’s because of stress or illness).
The huge stressors in your environment are certainly not allowing your immune system to function properly. Therefore, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Make healthy lifestyle choices, eat healthily, and you’ll stay healthy.
Moreover, keep practising social distancing measures, wear a mask, wash your hands, and do not touch your eyes, mouth, and nose. You can absolutely rely on Longevita when it comes to taking all the precautions during the pandemic for your and everyone else’s safety.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.