People recovering from COVID-19 have been complaining of several lingering post COVID-19 effects including fatigue, breathing issues, and continuous loss of smell and taste. While most of the long COVID-19 effects vary among people, a common complaint of increased hair fall has been reported by many of those who recovered.
Scientifically called telogen effluvium, this reversible excessive shedding of hair is observed when the body undergoes a stressful bout of illness or any other episode that it is not normally used to experiencing. The large lumps of hair that begin to shed after 4-6 weeks of recovery, however, are scary for the recovered patient. Hair thinning, excessive shedding and breakage, increasing bald patches are some of the hair related problems that people are facing after recuperating from COVID-19.
BOOM spoke to Dr. Khushboo Goradia, a trichologist from Mumbai to understand the pattern of stress induced hair fall and ways to cope with the same.
"Excessive hair shedding sets in 4-8 weeks after any stressful experience. For most patients, just recovering from another illness like COVID-19, this is scary as they start worrying about the most dreadful outcome such as losing all their hair and it never regrowing. But hair fall is your body's way to respond to all the exertion it underwent and is only temporary. Hair will regrow and the shedding should decrease within a stipulated period of time.
What Is Telogen Effluvium That Causes Excessive Hair Fall?
Dr. Goradia shared the stages of hair growth and shedding to explain how human hair is at all three stages of growth at the same time. "In the human body, about 80 per cent of the hair is in the active state that is called the anagen stage, 10 per cent is in the resting stage where it is prone to fall and not grow further which is the telogen phase which lasts for 3-6 weeks before the anagen phase resumes. We also have an in-between stage called the catagen wherein the hair achieves growth and is ready to move to the telogen phase."
"Telogen effluvium is when a large number of hair actively moves to the telogen phase from the anagen due to the body experiencing stress and thus more hair sheds during the period," Dr. Goradia explained.
The trichologist also emphasised on the fact that this period is only temporary even though induced months after recovering from COVID-19. Hair regrows after the excessive shedding unless the person is undergoing any pre-existing condition.
Pre-Existing Diseases And Hair Loss After COVID-19
If a person is already suffering from other lifestyle disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, hypothyroidism and then is infected by COVID-19, telogen effluvium is more severe. The regrowth of hair is further affected and may take longer.
"If there are underlying hormonal issues, hair regrowth may not be as sudden as expected. Such people need to consult a dermatologist or trichologist and start the necessary nutritional therapy," Dr. Goradia added.
People with hormonal disorders tend to have low iron, vitamin and mineral levels which are amplified due to COVID-19 and are crucial for hair growth. Thus, if the problem of hair loss and hair thinning persists, it is advisable that an expert is consulted.