Hair loss during the pandemic: You're probably not imagining it
Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still discovering ways the virus can affect our health and well-being, including severe hair shedding. This medical condition, called telogen effluvium, can be caused by stressful events.
Emotional or physical trauma, pregnancy, hospitalization or infection can cause hair to switch from the growing phase to the shedding stage. While shedding hair is a normal part of the hair cycle, excessive shedding is not.
During the normal hair cycle, we lose about 50 to 100 hairs per day, while someone experiencing telogen effluvium might lose about 300 hairs per day. This amount of shedding of hair from the scalp can lead to noticeable hair thinning.
Unfortunately, telogen effluvium is not only seen in those who have COVID-19. It also appears in those caring for a loved one who is ill, those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, and those whose lives have been severely disrupted in other ways by the virus.
What you can do about COVID-19 or stress-related hair loss
The good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary, usually lasting from three to six months before going back to the normal hair cycle. For most people, the hair shedding and thinning should resolve itself fully within one year from the onset.
Until the normal hair cycle returns, it might help to use a product like Rogaine or its generic version, minoxidil, to decrease the amount of shedding. Steroid injections, performed by your local dermatologist, might also help to ease the amount of hair lost.
Telogen effluvium is just one of many causes of hair loss. Some of the other types are not temporary and would require medical treatment.
If you are experiencing hair loss that concerns you, it’s best to see a dermatologist for evaluation. The dermatologist can identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment for your specific condition.
To find a dermatologist in your area or learn more about skin care services at Henry Ford Health System, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).