How To Deal With Hair Loss Post COVID-19
If you’ve been noticing more hair loss than usual, you’re not alone. While it is a normal occurrence after any illness, here’s how you can cope until your hair returns to its usual state.
Post recovering from COVID-19, many people have been reporting a long-lasting side effect: hair loss. Known as ‘telogen effluvium’, this kind of hair loss is quite commonly associated with prolonged periods of stress, and though understandably overwhelming, it is a normal reaction of your body. Telogen effluvium is more aptly described as hair ‘shedding’ rather than loss—you may have found handfuls of hair coming out after a shower or when you brush it, more than the usual amount of hair (it’s normal for around 100 strands to fall per day). To understand why this happens, it is important to know what the hair cycle consists of: the growth phase, the transitional phase and the resting phase, also known as the telogen phase. As per Harvard Health Publishing, a hair is in the growing phase for a few years, then it rests for around two months during the telogen phase; it then falls out and is replaced by new hair. But, when any incident shocks the body, every system is impacted, and for hair that means more will enter the telogen phase without growing and then fall out. This happens because your body is prioritizing other more vital functions, leaving hair growth on the side for a while, it being a non-essential function. And, COVID-19 causes an immense amount of stress, both directly and indirectly, thereby becoming something that shocks the body. In fact, even a study by The Lancet found that over 20 percent of hospitalised COVID-19 patients in China reported hair loss six months later.
While it can be a cause for concern and is distressing both emotionally and physically, it’s important to keep in mind that your typical hair growth cycle will come back after about six months, and new hair will grow back. If you still seem to be finding more hair falling than usual even after that period, or if you feel it’s falling for reasons other than this, you should seek a professional’s help. Until then, there are some simple techniques that will help you relieve stress and encourage your body to fight this hair shedding.
You need to help your body recover by fuelling it with the right balance of nutrients, making sure to include protein, minerals and vitamins. Since your hair consists of protein, its role in your diet is incredibly important. Opt for a good protein source with each meal, depending on your dietary restrictions, if any. Some options include dairy products, eggs, lentils, nuts and chicken. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, ensure you’re incorporating iron-rich foods so that the blood supply to your hair follicle, and the nutrients being brought with it, is not compromised—red meat and fish are both good sources, while vegetarians can go for lentils and leafy greens like spinach and broccoli. Vitamin C will help your body absorb iron and also helps in the production of collagen. Other nutrients for boosting hair health include vitamin A, which helps create sebum and prevents breakage; zinc, which can aid scalp health; biotin, as it could encourage hair growth; and omega-3 fatty acids, which will keep your hair and scalp hydrated.
Exercise and sleep
Along with helping with blood circulation, adequate amounts of exercise will aid in overall health and serve as a de-stressing tool. This goes hand-in-hand with sleep, as your body also needs time to recover and heal itself, and it does so when you’re asleep.
Since telogen effluvium is linked to a sudden shock to the body, reducing the burden of stress on you is part of the recovery process. Everyone has different ways of coping with stress, but it’s important to find what works for you; it could be walking and exercising, talking to a professional, or practising mindfulness. Whatever it is, make it part of your routine.
If you feel like the hair shedding is beyond your control and requires intervention, speak to your healthcare practitioner about what supplements are available. Be sure to do this under their guidance.
At Seva At Home, we produce a wealth of free health information to help elders live healthier, happier lives. This has been produced by independent research carried out by the Seva At Home team. This information is not a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your physician for relevant medical diagnosis and advice.
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