Most text exchanges between besties since the lockdown have been about stress, weight fluctuations and hair loss. Getting “Hey, so I don’t know if this is just my imagination, but I think my hair is falling out?” messages around the middle of 2020 became the norm. In fact, hair shedding has become enough of an issue during the pandemic for people to try everything from weird to just unreliable solutions.
To know more about this global phenomenon, TC46 connected with Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetic Dermatologist of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai. Here she talks about Telogen Effluvium, the effect of Covid-19 on hair and lifestyle changes that can help.
1. Telogen Effluvium & Covid-19
Whenever our body goes through tremendous stress which can be due to an illness (like COVID-19), surgery, hospitalization, crash diet, mental stress, pregnancy during that time around 70% of our hair from the growing phase shifts to the resting phase. The resting phase is called Telogen. Once the physical or mental stress is over, the hair cycle resumes, and new hair follicles start growing. But for the new hair follicle to come out, the old resting hair must shed. This shedding of Telogen hair after a disease is called ‘Telogen Effluvium’.
2. Covid-19 is leading to a hair loss problem
COVID-19 is a major illness and sometimes it requires hospitalization, so our hair and even nail growth stops during the disease phase and around 3 months after that, the visible hair fall starts occurring. This is because the duration of the Telogen phase is 3 months. Are you experiencing hair fall during monsoon season, know here why?
3. 3-6 month is the time it will take for the hair growth to go back to normal
Usually, in the first 3-4 weeks of initiation of hair fall, there is no response, after about 3-6 months one can expect the density to come back.
4. Factors are responsible for hair fall
Following factors are mainly responsible for the severity of hair fall:
- The severity of the disease and need for hospitalization, ICU stay, duration of the disease and more
- How much time did it take to recover from the disease?
- What were the nutrient levels and health quotients of the patient before the disease?
- How good care a patient takes of his/her rest, sleep, diet, and exercise during the recovering phase
5. Some products and remedies that can help
Based on the nutrient deficiency levels, supplements of vitamins and minerals will help the patient to recover from the hair fall. Some growth peptides also come in solution form besides Minoxidil lotion, which can help in regaining the density. One should use them after consulting with a Dermatologist for correct strength, dosage, and application method.
Read Here: All you need to know about hair loss causes & possible treatments.
6. Lifestyle changes that can help with Covid hair loss?
Wholesome lifestyle factors are important for recovery.
- It’s like the correct nourishing manure for your new seedling to grow. If the nourishment is not right, then the new hair will be weak
- Patients recovering from COVID19 should not be in a hurry to bounce back to work & should take ample amount of rest and sleep
- They should do breathing exercises or Pranayama and slowly start walking until they easily reach 10,000 steps a day, to build up cardiorespiratory health, which is very important for oxygen supply to newly developing hair follicles too
- Patients should walk in sun for good vitamin D
- They should have 2-3 liters water and if possible fluids in form of Lemon Shikanji, Coconut water to give them balance of electrolytes
- They should also focus on lots of color with seasonal and local fruits and vegetables along with millets, legumes, nuts and seeds
7. Vital tips about maintaining the health of one’s hair during Covid induced hair loss
Besides lifestyle changes mentioned above, patients can use Sulphate-free shampoos and Silicone-free conditioners for hair wash 3-4 times a week. Patients should use broad bristle combs and not try to remove all tangles of hair with fine bristles which make hair fall much more.
8. Diet tips to reduce hair fall
- A rainbow diet with 2-3 seasonal and local fruits every day, along with 4-5 vegetables every day with 50% raw in the form of salads should be the key
- One should avoid packaged and processed foods, ready to eats, eating stale food or leftovers, eating overcooked foods, and eating frozen foods
- One should use whole grains like millets instead of Maida; consume jaggery or dates instead of refined sugar or artificial sweeteners; whole seeds, nuts, coconut and peanut (soaked or roasted) instead of refined oils; homemade ladoos as desserts instead of baked items; steamed veggies instead of fried
9. Time to consult a doctor
For COVID19 hair fall, if one follows the above steps and gets good results, then it is not needed to show a doctor. But usually, in our experience, patients are deficient in many nutrients, and hence consulting a Dermatologist early during the hair fall will help them nourish the new hair well. We usually ask for investigations to find out vitamin deficiencies and supplement them according to the test results. A Dermatologist will also give the patient serums or lotions to help recover the hair density. This is more important for those who have a family history of baldness because such hair fall during an illness can unmask the hereditary pattern of hair loss. If some patients have dandruff, itchy or sensitive scalp, they should also see their Dermatologist to tackle dandruff as it can aggravate hair fall. Sometimes desi nuskhe with the application of various things on hair can make scalp sensitive, so the first sign of itching or irritation, a Dermatologist’s opinion should be sought.
Read Here: 25 hair masks perfect for the dry season + tips to keep them healthy!