Losing your hair can be a scary and confusing experience. If you’re like most people, you probably associate hair loss with old age or illness. However, recent discoveries found that hair loss is also a common coronavirus (COVID) side effect. In this article, we’ll explore its three leading causes and some of the best COVID hair loss treatment.
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COVID Hair Loss Causes
The pandemic has brought with it a host of unexpected side effects. And one of the most surprising has been hair loss. There are treatments available that can help to restore hair growth. And there are some that can alleviate some of the psychological effects of hair loss.
But to understand which treatment plan is best for you, let’s first understand the most common causes of COVID hair loss.
The first and most obvious cause of COVID hair loss is the virus itself. The exact mechanism of this type of hair loss is not yet known. But it is thought that the viral infection also induces the catagen phase of the hair growth cycle. This phenomenon causes hair follicles to shrink and hair growth to slow.
Vaccination Side Effect
Another potential cause of COVID hair loss is the vaccine itself. The vast majority of people who receive the vaccine may have not experience any side effects. But a small number of people have experienced a type of hair loss known as Alopecia Areata.
This autoimmune condition is thought to be triggered by an immune reaction to the vaccine. This results in inflammation and damage to the hair follicles.
Like the COVID infection, the flare-ups show approximately 2-4 months after the inoculation. Some with genetic predisposition experience it as early as one week after their dose.
Finally, stress can also be a major factor in COVID-related hair loss. Anyone who has gone through a stressful period knows that anxiety can take a toll on our physical appearance, including our hair. When we are under stress, our bodies produce higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which can cause inflammation and lead to hair loss.
The pandemic has been an incredibly stressful time for many people, and that fear and stress can manifest in various ways – one of which is hair loss.
Dermatologists report “mountains” of new hair loss patients since the pandemic began. Most of these patients are women suffering from different types of hair loss. These types include telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, and seborrheic dermatitis.
COVID Hair Loss Treatments
When the pandemic hit, just a few may have anticipated the havoc it would wreak on their hair. From virus-induced hair loss to stress-related itching and shedding, many of us have struggled to cope with this during the lockdown.
Now the restrictions are starting to lift. We’re finally getting a glimpse of the full extent of the damage.
COVID hair loss can be devastating, causing feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help to regrow lost hair.
Here are seven of them:
Treatment 1: Nutrition & Healthy Diet
You are what you eat—or, at least, your hair is. Eating a nutritious diet rich in proteins, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids can help promote healthy hair growth. Foods like salmon, spinach, and eggs are all great options.
If you’re finding it difficult to get enough nutrients from food alone, vitamins and supplements can also help. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
Treatment 2: Hair Growth Supplements
Aside from regular vitamins and supplements, there are supplements are specifically formulated to help with hair loss. Most of these will contain DHT-fighting ingredients.
Again, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking any new supplements. As these nutraceuticals may interact with medications you’re already taking.
COVID Hair Loss Treatment 3: Minoxidil
Minoxidil is a topical medication that is applied to the scalp and is commonly used to treat hair loss. It works by widening blood vessels, increasing blood flow and stimulating hair growth.
There are many over-the-counter products containing minoxidil available. However, stronger formulations require a prescription from a doctor.
Minoxidil is one of the limited FDA approved medications for hair loss but it also has adverse side effects. The most common side effect of minoxidil is scalp irritation, itching, redness, headache and initial hair loss. It should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are considering using minoxidil for hair loss, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
Treatment 4: PRP Therapy
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy is a hair loss treatment that utilizes the patient’s own blood plasma to stimulate hair growth.
PRP was initially used in treating musculoskeletal injuries. That’s because of its growth factors that have been shown to potentiate the healing and regeneration of tendons and ligaments.
In the case of hair loss, PRP injections are thought to stimulate dormant hair follicles and promote new hair growth.
The treatment is done by drawing a small amount of blood from the patient. It is then placed in a centrifuge which spins it at high speeds to separate the plasma. This plasma concentrate is then injected into the scalp where it stimulates new hair growth.
PRP therapy is considered safe and the results are promising. But it’s generally only recommended for those who have not had success with other hair loss treatments. As it is relatively new, experimental, and expensive. In fact, it is not an FDA-approved treatment for hair loss.
COVID Hair Loss Treatment 5: Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy
Laser therapy uses low levels of light to encourage cell metabolism and encourage hair growth. The laser light is typically delivered through a device worn on the head like a laser hat or laser helmet, which emits light onto the scalp.
Again, LLLT treatment is a very promising treatment for hair loss, but it is expensive, and not everyone responds well to laser therapy. However, those who do often see positive results within 3-6 months of treatment.
Treatment 6: Hair Oils
There are many different types of natural oils that can be used topically on the scalp to promote healthy hair growth. Some of these oils are jojoba oil, coconut oil, rosemary oil, and peppermint oil, among others.
These oils help to moisturize the scalp, which can reduce inflammation and promote blood circulation on the scalp. In addition, hair oil can also help to protect the hair shaft from UV damage, which can prevent breakage and encourage new growth.
In addition, natural hair oil can penetrate the scalp and hair strands. They provide nutrients that are essential for healthy hair growth. These hair oils can be used on their own or added to shampoo or conditioner for an extra boost of hydration.
As always with topical products, patch testing is recommended before use. Some people may be allergic to certain oils or other ingredients often found in hair products.
COVID Hair Loss Treatment 7: Stress Management
While it is not possible to completely eliminate stress from our lives, there are several things we can do to manage it in a healthy way.
When it comes to relieving stress, exercise is a surprisingly effective way to up your game. When you work out, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that block pain signals from the brain and also provoke positive feelings.
So not only does exercise help your body physically, but it can also give you an emotional boost. Plus, when you have more energy and feel better about yourself, you’re better equipped to handle stressors in your life.
One of the best ways to combat stress is to connect with loved ones. Whether it’s spending time with family, catching up with old friends, or making new ones, social support can go a long way in helping us manage stress.
In fact, one study shows that receiving hugs reduces cortisol and lowers blood pressure. In addition, when we talk and laugh with family & friends, our body responds by producing less of the stress hormone cortisol.
Meditation is an ancient practice and one of the most effective tools for managing stress. By calming the mind and body, meditation helps to bring about a sense of inner peace. In addition, meditation has been shown to improve concentration, lower blood pressure, and boost immunity.
There are many different ways to meditate, and what works best may vary from person to person. Some common methods include sound bath meditation, guided meditation, and transcendental meditation.
Yoga and Tai Chi are also often used as forms of meditation. The key is to find a method that feels comfortable and effective for you.
Covid Hair Loss Treatment: Conclusion
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for hair loss. However, there are many treatments available that can help promote healthy hair growth.
Talk to your doctor about which strategy may be right for you. And don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re struggling with anxiety or stress related to hair loss. It’s more common than you think!
Gen is a Master Stylist in Tampa, Florida who specializes in extremely thin hair and hair loss care. Working with hundreds of clients with hair loss/thinning concerns allowed her to recognize products and routines that can cause damage. She has discovered what hair products work and what doesn’t and shares all of this info to the readers of Union of Barber. When she’s not writing, you can find Gen hiking or at home with her army of cats!