Many men and women have reported hair loss from the COVID-era. There are several reasons why this may have happened, either from the physical stress of the virus on your body or the psychological aftermath of dealing with lockdown and being segregated from society.
Temporary hair loss is usually caused by stress and is known as telogen effluvium. Both temporary hair loss and permanent hair loss can be treated to stop further hair loss and promote hair regrowth. Keep reading to find out your options for Post COVID hair loss treatment at home to regrow your hair and confidence.
Introduction to Post-Covid Hair Loss
As COVID has affected us all in different ways, it is no wonder that our health and hair have suffered. You are not alone if you notice hair thinning, hair loss at the crown or sides of your head, or unhealthy hair that seems to be shedding during or after COVID. Many people have reported COVID-related hair loss at varying scales.
It’s completely normal to lose some hair following a stressful event or severe illness, so if you notice hair loss or thinning, try not to be overly concerned. Although the results of hair loss can leave us feeling stressed and anxious, it’s important to know that we’re not alone and treatment options are available.
If you’ve noticed hair loss following COVID, speak to a doctor who can diagnose the cause of your hair loss and formulate a hair loss plan with you.
Understanding the Causes of Post Covid Hair Loss
Doctors and scientists are still understanding the consequences of COVID-19. Evidence suggests that COVID could impact all aspects of health, including hair growth and hair loss. The virus is more aggressive than most, having a knock-on effect on many vital bodily functions. Our bodies were also not equipped to handle the virus. This could have caused you to feel seriously ill when you caught it, especially compared to a generic cold.
With new research, doctors have found that COVID could impact the gut, skin, and hair, which may result in excess hair shedding and varying degrees of hair loss. This may not be apparent for several months after you had the virus.
As your immune system is working to fight a new virus, the stress of this can cause your body to be unable to deliver the essential nutrients your hair needs to grow. This is enough to disrupt the hair growth cycle, meaning your hair follicles go from the growth phase to the shedding phase.
Hair shedding and hair loss can also be caused by psychological stress, as COVID was stressful for everyone. Not knowing what would happen next, dealing with the virus, being unable to see family and friends, worrying about elderly relatives: all of this significantly impacts our mental health and stress levels. With built-up stress comes the risk of hair loss, as our body goes into a fight or flight state.
In a fight-or-flight state, our body shuts down essential functions, including hair growth. This can cause hair to leave the growth phase and move into the resting phase. After a few months, the hair follicles will enter the next phase, which is shedding. During this time, hair will fall out much faster than usual, which is visibly noticeable.
This kind of hair loss is called telogen effluvium, which is caused by stress in the body or stress of the mind. Telogen effluvium is usually temporary, so any hair loss you experience will grow back. Hair grows at a rate of around 1 inch every 10 weeks, but you can speed up hair regrowth with medical treatment. Telogen effluvium is sometimes called diffuse hair loss.
Another cause of hair loss after COVID could be alopecia areata, a type of alopecia. This condition is caused by the immune system attacking each hair follicle, causing hair loss. Instead of hair shedding, alopecia areata can cause patchy baldness. Although this is an autoimmune disorder, stress and anxiety are thought to trigger it.
Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic Alopecia)
Male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia is not caused by stress or COVID-19. If you are a man and have noticed your hair thinning at the crown and sides, it may be caused by male pattern baldness, a genetic disorder unrelated to your mental health. This can be treated with topical minoxidil and finasteride.
If you have been under a great deal of stress, you may have a condition called trichotillomania. This causes a person to constantly pull out hair to cope with feelings of stress or anxiety. Over time, this hair-pulling will cause significant hair loss.
Signs and Symptoms of Post Covid Hair Loss
Some typical signs and symptoms of hair loss after COVID include:
● hair shedding, which may be visible when you brush your hair, wash your hair, or when looking at your pillow after waking
● hair thinning, hair may look and feel thinner than it did before
● bald spots that get larger over time
● receding hairline
If hair loss has been caused by stress, you may also notice signs of stress such as feeling anxious most of the time, difficulty sleeping, less joy for life, and inability to cope with issues, however minor. It’s essential to look at your health as a whole when determining the cause of your hair loss.
Home Remedies for Post Covid Hair Loss
Although hair loss after COVID can feel incredibly frustrating, there are plenty of ways to stimulate your scalp and hair follicles to grow new hair. Combining these home remedies with medical treatments, you should see a noticeable difference in your hair within a few months.
A healthy and balanced diet can contribute to healthy skin, hair, and nails. It can also improve your mood and help you deal with stress and anxiety better. With proper nutrition, your body can provide each hair follicle with essential nutrients for optimal hair health and growth.
Nutrition and diet tips for post-COVID hair loss include:
● eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
● getting enough protein, which is required for healthy hair
● taking iron supplements or eating foods high in iron, as iron deficiency can contribute to hair loss
● consuming healthy fats, like avocado, nuts, and eggs
● eating 2 portions of fatty fish a week, as omega-3 is essential for a healthy scalp
● taking supplements to support a healthy body and immune system
● avoiding too much alcohol and sugary drinks, as these can negatively influence hair health
● reducing caffeine intake if you are feeling stressed and anxious, as caffeine can further contribute to these feelings
Some herbal treatments are thought to stimulate hair growth and contribute to a healthy scalp. You can also use essential oils as part of your scalp massage routine (see below). Herbal supplements may also promote new hair growth and stimulate hair follicles.
Regular scalp massage can do a lot for hair loss. Massaging the scalp stimulates the skin, causing more blood flow. Our blood contains oxygen and other nutrients needed for hair growth, so improving blood flow to the scalp will ensure your hair follicles get everything they need to flourish.
This is also a great de-stressing technique for dealing with post-COVID stress. Try massaging your head for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day.
Medical Treatments for Post Covid Hair Loss
COVID-related hair loss can be reversed or treated with various medical treatments. The treatment you decide to use depends on the cause of your hair loss.
Topical minoxidil is a popular hair loss medication that can be used in both men and women. This hair loss medication is applied directly to the scalp and can increase blood flow and stimulate the hair follicles to enter the growth phase.
If you are shedding hair, your hair is currently in a shedding phase and will continue to shed until it re-enters the growth phase. Topical minoxidil can therefore help your hair to grow back faster. Minoxidil is usually found under the branded name Regaine.
Mesotherapy is used to treat the middle layers of the scalp. This involves tiny injections of vitamins, minerals, and other substances to encourage healthy scalp and hair growth. You will need to visit a private clinic to get this treatment.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a regenerative treatment for people who have alopecia areata. This involves injections directly into the affected areas of the scalp, which can stimulate hair regrowth in bald patches. By injecting large amounts of platelet-rich plasma, hair follicles may be able to regenerate hairs.
Psychological Support for Post-Covid Hair Loss Patients
Stress is a major contributing factor in COVID-related hair loss, so it’s worth talking to someone if you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed. Speak to your GP, who can refer you to counselling or therapy. You can also join support groups, where you can discuss your feelings and find ways to deal with your stress in a healthy way.
When stress is the cause of hair loss, it’s important to treat it. Failing to do so may cause further hair loss in the future and make it harder for your hair to regrow.
COVID-related hair loss can be caused by the virus itself, stress on the body fighting off the virus, or psychological stress. Getting a diagnosis for your hair loss means you can get the right treatment.
Improving your diet and nutrition, taking herbal supplements, and regular scalp massage are great ways to deal with your hair loss symptoms at home. You can also use medical treatments such as minoxidil topical foam to stimulate hair regrowth and prevent further hair loss.