Hair loss and COVID-19: Know what an expert has to say | Photo Credits: iStock Images
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- Hair loss after an illness is a common condition and can happen to anyone
- Several people suffered from hair problems after a COVID-19 infection
- This article is about the problem of hair loss and its associated conditions
New Delhi: The COIVD-19 pandemic has affected different people in different ways. Among the many ill effects that emerged after a COVID-19 infection was excessive hair loss and the problem of unhealthy hair. Even months after the infections, this problem of hair loss became a major concern for the suffering individuals. This has had serious implications for people’s mental health, leading them to desperately seek help from health professionals to find a solution. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, hair loss after a fever is common and can happen to anyone.
Times Now Digital spoke with Dr. Monisha Aravind, MDDVL, PDFC, founder and consultant dermatologist at Armoraa Skin, Hair and Laser Clinic in Chennai to better understand the problem, the nuances of how it affects people and the methods of treatment.
Terms like ‘Telogen Effluvium’ and ‘Alopecia Areata’ have popped up quite often lately. Can you tell us about telogen effluvium?
dr. Monisha Aravind: Telogen effluvium is a condition that causes excessive hair loss. Hair loss of more than 100 hairs per day. Both men and women can have telogen effluvium, but it is predominant in women. Usually there is an underlying condition for it such as thyroid, PCOS, nutritional deficiencies or viral infections such as covid-19, chicken pox etc and hormonal imbalance.
What is Alopecia Areata?
dr. Monisha Aravind: Alopecia areata is a condition of patchy hair loss and can affect any part of the body. When it occurs in a specific area or part of the scalp, it is called Alopecia areata, when it occurs on an entire scalp, it is called Alopecia Total, and when it occurs all over the body, it is called Alopecia Universalis. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the cells of the body attack the hair follicles. May be associated with other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid, vitiligo, type 1 and 2 diabetes. It can occur in children and its main cause is infection.
How has COVID-19 affected hair health?
dr. Monisha Aravind: Most of the covid 19 patients complain of hair loss after 3 months recovering from an infection. This is a type of telogen effluvium. During the Covid 19 infections, the virus causes inflammation and the thrombi in the blood vessels in the hair follicles are also inflamed. This causes hair loss.
How do hair problems affect people’s lives?
dr. Monisha Aravind: Hair loss has a psychological impact on the patients and they become very panicky. Losing even 10 locks of hair a day makes people very scared. This is due to the awareness around. It is important to understand that it is normal to lose 100 hairs per day. This is called hair loss, but losing more hair than that is a serious concern.
Does it affect men and women differently?
dr. Monisha Aravind: In men, androgenic alopecia is very common and genetically triggered.
What factors other than COVID-19 can contribute to a deterioration in hair health after infection?
dr. Monisha Aravind: The strong drugs used to treat the infection cause severe hair loss. Emotional and financial stress associated with the infection can also cause hair loss.
What are the treatment methods?
dr. Monisha Aravind: In general, a topical solution of Minoxidil along with a multivitamin supplement is helpful in reducing hair loss. Also, treatments like PRP and PRF are helpful in treating hair loss.
What are some hair health management tips that you would recommend?
dr. Monisha Aravind: Take care of hair hygiene, keep your hair clean. Make sure to wash your hair twice a week. Avoid traction on the hair. Don’t wear too many hair clips. Avoid tight rubber bands and hair ties. Avoid frequent hair treatments such as cysteine and keratin. Comb your hair once a day.
Can it be treated at home? If so, what are some home remedies you would recommend?
dr. Monisha Aravind: An oil massage can be done once a week. Avoid pressure or heavy traction while massaging. Follow a healthy diet and avoid junk food. Avoid Chinese greasy food. Avoid dairy products. Take natural fruits and vegetables.
Telogen effluvium, androgenic alopecia or alopecia cannot be treated at home. In such cases, consult your dermatologist and diagnose the condition.
Want to add something to the conversation?
dr. Monisha Aravind: In short, hair health is very important. It is good that awareness has increased and that people are paying attention to their health. But too much stress can lead to hair loss. Don’t panic if you lose 50 hairs a day as this is part of the hair growth cycle. It can happen due to seasonal changes, change in water and lifestyle. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, the hair loss will decrease automatically. Avoid regularly changing shampoos and conditioners for hair care. Chemical treatment can cause hair loss. There are many causes for hair loss, understand the cause and act on it.
In telogen effluvium, alopecia areata is when you need to be treated by a dermatologist. Don’t be controlled by OTC products. Apply the growth serum when prescribed. Eat good food for good hair health.