A growing number of coronavirus patients, including actress Alyssa Milano and Malaika Arora have suffered from post COVID-19 hair loss. Dr Niketa Sonavane, cosmetic dermatologist and hair specialist at Ambrosia Aesthetics, explains that the hair loss that’s seen following COVID-19 is due to telogen effluvium (TE).
“Telogen effluvium is a common cause of temporary hair loss after any stressful event. It is known to occur after high fever illnesses such as dengue, malaria and typhoid fever. In case of COVID-19 the hair shedding is linked to stress and trauma of battling the infection,” she says. TE is characterized by sudden hair shedding 2-3 months after the triggering event. You might notice clumps of your hair falling out especially while shampooing and combing. Dr Niketa shares easy and effective tips to control post COVID hair fall.
At this time when your hair is at its weakest, you need to be gentle to prevent excessive shedding. During hair wash, massage your scalp in gentle circular motion. Wash in a downward direction instead of piling your hair up in order to reduce tangles. Consider having a haircut. Trimming away the dry ends of your hair may reduce tangles and pulling while combing your hair. Avoid ingredients like sulfates, parabens, alcohols and artificial fragrance in your hair products. Also, stay away from heat styling and chemical hair treatments such as perming and re-bonding.
A healthy diet is essential to recover quickly from post COVID-19 hair loss. Give your body the benefit of home cooked meals with healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Avoid diets that leave out key nutrients. Your daily diet should include adequate amount of protein to keep your hair healthy. Do include plenty of protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, sprouted beans and nuts in your daily diet. Deficiency of iron is also directly linked with hair fall. You need to consume foods like red meat, liver, jaggery, spinach and other leafy veggies that are rich in zinc and iron regularly. Vitamins such as A, B, C, D, E and K also play an essential role in healthy hair growth. Hence, foods like broccoli, bell peppers and beetroot need to be in your diet everyday to slow down the hair loss.
In addition to post COVID-19 telogen effluvium, your hair loss could be caused by a number of other reasons as well. The reasons include stress, poor diet, weight loss, hormonal fluctuations and other co-existing health problems. Health issues such as poor thyroid function and deficiency of vitamins D3 or B12 can worsen the hair loss that you are already experiencing. Consider seeking medical advice from a dermatologist or hair specialist to make your hair restoration journey easier.
You can boost your hair repair process by consuming hair health supplements. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, E, C fight oxidative stress and help your body heal faster. Biotin or vitamin B7 is important for producing keratin, a protein which forms the structure of your hair. Most Indian women have iron deficiency. In such a case, taking iron supplements may help control your hair loss much faster. Zinc too plays an essential role in repair of hair tissue. Other important nutrients that you can supplement are protein, vitamin D and fish oil.
In order to win this battle against hair loss, you must give up poor lifestyle habits. Drink lots of water. Exercise regularly. Avoid smoking and alcohol intake. Say no to packaged food. And practice stress relief through mindfulness and meditation.
If your hair loss is severe or continues over 6 months, then seek help from your dermatologist or hair specialist. There are many FDA approved medications and treatments that control hair fall effectively. Medications such as Minoxidil, Finasteride and cyclical vitamin therapy for hair loss have proven benefits. In addition to this, hair loss treatment such as PRP hair treatment and meso-therapy give very good hair regrowth.
Post COVID-19 hair loss is usually caused by telogen effluvium and lasts for around 6 months. Except in cases where it becomes chronic telogen effluvium, where it lasts longer. Supportive care and lifestyle changes can be effective in controlling hair fall. Medical help can control the hair fall faster.