Living through almost 12 months of lockdown in London, it can sometimes feel as if there’s not much more that the Covid-19 could take.
It has taken my smell, my taste, my friends and family, my holidays, and so many freedoms. But perhaps the thing I didn’t expect has caused the most distress; am I imagining it, or am I now losing more hair than I should be?
Was my hair always that thin around my temples and parting? Can Covid-19 cause hair loss?
Long term effects of Covid-19
My husband and I isolated early March 2020 after he developed a cough and light fever. A few days later I realized that I couldn’t smell anything. The pork shoulder I’d been slow roasting in the oven for 6 hours (taking advantage of our new time at home) quite suddenly smelt of nothing. In despair I shoved my nose deep into a jar of cloves searching desperately for any recognition. Nothing. Fever, fatigue and breathlessness all followed.
The loss of smell and taste has become recognized around the world as potentially the first symptom and also a long term effect of Covid-19. However it is not the only long lasting impact. As time goes on, we have started to understand more of the long term impacts Covid-19 has on patients who have recovered.
A recent study published in The Lancet studied the long term medical impacts of Covid-19 patients 6 months after they contracted the disease. The study showed that 81% of patients were still suffering some long lasting effects as a result of contracting the virus.
Fatigue and smell distortion, alongside palpitations and difficulty sleeping were all prevalent. However the second highest symptom after fatigue was hair loss. In fact the study found that a quarter of Covid sufferers are experiencing hair loss months after contracting the virus, with women more likely to experience this symptom.
Stress and Hair loss
So it would seem I’m not imagining it. But as I noticed more hair in the shower drain, my hairbrush, and wrapped around my vacuum cleaner brush, I could justify it to myself for a while.
I’m home so much more now! This was bound to happen! Its normal to lose hair ever day! It can’t be that much more than normal can it?
It is normal to lose hair each day. Anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. But noticeable hair loss can be a sign that something else is going on.
Doctors have said that it is not that coronavirus can cause hair loss by attacking the hair follicles. Rather is it a reaction caused by the physical and emotional stress brought on by the disease.
This type of stress induced hair loss is known as telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium can occur after any major lifestyle change, hormonal imbalance, thyroid issue or illness. The stress disrupts the hair cycle and forces more of the follicles into the resting phase.
Once the hair is in the resting phase it will eventually loosen and then fall. Because hair grows in cycles, the hair loss is usually not seen until months after the event. So in my case, months after I’d recovered from Covid-19.
Click here to learn about the normal hair growth and hair loss cycle.
Covid-19 and Hair Loss
I am definitely not alone gazing at my hair line with concern. Google searches for hair loss have increased by 8 percent in the last 12 months, being searched an average of 829,000 a month in the United States.
Actress Alyssa Milano even took to social media to show her own experience with hair loss following her recovery from Coronavirus. She showed large clumps of hair coming out of her hair as she brushed.
There’s no doubt that contracting Covid-19 can cause stress on the body. However contracting the virus itself may not be the only cause of hair loss over this past year. Whether you have experience first hand of Covid-19 or not, we have all been living through the Pandemic.
The disruption, stress and anxiety has been universal.
Coping with Hair Loss
One of the most important things to do if you feel you may be experiencing telogen effluvium is to see your GP and arrange a blood test. Whilst you may think that Covid-19 is the cause of your hair loss, there are many other possible underlying causes which your GP can test you for.
It is common for women to have low iron and hormonal imbalances which can both contribute to hair loss. But also common are low Vitamin D, autoimmune diseases, skin and thyroid conditions.
This is why it is important to see your health care professional. Please don’t just start taking
vitamin supplements in the hope that it will cure hair loss. Supplements are important when there is an actual deficiency. But some supplements if taken when not needed, can cause serious health issues and even hair loss.
In most cases telogen effluvium is reversible. However it can take months to recover. The best thing I can do for my hair is to use a good quality shampoo and conditioner to give my hair the best chance for healthy regrowth. So I’m using Boost & Be Growth Boost Shampoo and Conditioner with the Boost & Be Repair Mask to give my hair the nourishment I know it needs.
And instead of agonizing over my hair line in the mirror and checking to see if there’s any new hair growing, I’m using female hair fibers to conceal thinning areas. The tiny cotton fibers cling to the hair shaft making them appear thicker and fuller. This way no one has to know that my hair isn’t exactly as it was before Covid-19.
And once we’re out of lockdown and out at the pub again that little secret is just mine!