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Excessive hair fall has become a severe health concern among people infected with the COVID-19. The major reason for hair thinning and rough hair, during the recovery phase, is the weakened immune system. The virus affects our immune system severely, leading to various post-COVID symptoms, including hair fall. The Hair fall starts around 3 months after a triggering effect (stressor). The stressor cold be pregnancy, any severe illness, surgery, infections like malaria, typhoid , tuberculosis etc., malnutrition, certain medications, and psychological stress. The most common stressor today is the
emotional stress due to covid 19 pandemic.

Diffuse hair shedding is common after any significant stressor. Normally a hair follicle goes through the cycle of growth and rest. In the normal scalp, around 90 to 95% of the hair follicles are in growing phase and around 5 to 10% are in the resting phase. During any stressful condition, the body starts focussing on the essential functions and the metabolic alterations shift abnormally large number of hair follicles to enter the resting phase
simultaneously and hence the hairs shed in large numbers.

Diffuse hair shedding called the TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM, is the most common one among the dermatological manifestations of covid 19. Covid 19 infection causes immense physical and psychological stress and the compromised nutritional intake during the infection only adds up to the hair loss. just the constant fear of contracting the infection is a sufficient enough stressor to cause the hair loss. The hair shedding here takes about 3 to 6 months to cease ,after which regrowth can be seen in 3 to 6 months but cosmetically significant regrowth can take around 12 to 18 months. The small hairs of same length on the hair line in the front is an indicator for road to recovery.

The hair shedding leads to increased anxiety and stress, and it would again increase the hair shedding and would continue as a vicious cycle. This cycle has to be broken and for that one has to realise that this is a self-limiting condition and hence stop worrying. Destressing is very important during this period and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle would help achieve the same. Next and the most important is the diet during recovery from covid.
A protein rich diet is very essential. A period of at least 3 months of a healthy and balanced diet is needed to observe the changes. These along with the hair supplements and topical solutions advised by your doctor can also help in the recovery. Avoid application of excessive heat and styling products to scalp and hair during this period. If you are experiencing severe hair loss for a very prolonged period or in a patterned way, that is more visible hair loss in specific regions of the scalp, or if it is associated with a rash or itching or burning, it’s definitely the time to consult a specialist.

Artical by
Dr Lakshmi Priya V,
Consultant Dermatologist,
Dr Mehta’s Hospital

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