Noticing an increase in hair shedding caused by elongated stress by the pandemic or after recovering from Covid-19? Find out why this occurs and how to regrow hair.
PANDEMIC STRESS AND HAIR LOSS
A report from The Lancet showed that 22% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in China reported hair loss six months later. In other words, although your body is able to completely fight off the infection, residual damage can persist for many months after the virus has left your body.
The body can experience stress in different forms: mental, emotional, and physical. When stress becomes severe, it can cause hair loss and excessive shedding.
The body classifies hair growth to be a nonessential structure. This means your body will focus its energy on fighting infection or reducing other physical side effects rather than maintain consistent hair growth.
The most common type of stress-related hair shedding is called Telogen Effluvium. Temporary shedding, however, does not mean permanent hair loss - and understanding the difference between the two is key.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAIR LOSS AND HAIR SHEDDING?
Knowing the difference between shedding and hair loss may help reduce the anxiety that comes with declined hair health. When hair loss is triggered, it completely halts hair growth. Hair loss has a multitude of causes including aging, medical issues, and hormonal changes. While experiencing hair loss, follicle health declines, and most hair follicles shrink. Thus, the quality of the new hair growth declines, and the hair follicle is unable to sprout new “baby hairs”.
On the other hand, Hair shedding can result from a nutritional deficiency, severe stress, or an illness. It is commonly confused with hair loss because symptoms of hair shedding and hair loss may appear similar on the surface. The main difference to highlight between the two is that with hair shedding, new growth is still occurring under the scalp slowly but surely.
DECIPHERING THE SYMPTOMS MAY BE DIFFICULT AS HAIR FALL IS APPARENT IN BOTH CASES.
Hair Loss: Hair falls as a long whole strand, with or without a hair bulb at the end. The lack of the bulb indicates follicular miniaturization and health decline. Excessive Shedding: Hair falls as a long whole strand, with a bulb indicating the completion of the hair growth cycle.
HOW COMMON IS HAIR SHEDDING FROM COVID-19?
After your body fights infection, it is common to experience excessive shedding (often confused with hair loss) as the body is fatigued from recovering. While combating COVID-19 or another illness, the body undergoes a strenuous process in which it prioritizes only the necessary functions of health. Thus hair is considered a nonessential structure, meaning hair enters a paused state. Thus, a decline in hair health will become apparent. This decline of hair health is the body's way of preventing fatigue and its own way of asking for additional support. When you begin to notice excessive hair shedding, it is important to try and de-stress. Only when the stress ends will the excessive hair shedding stop.
HOW LONG WILL HAIR SHEDDING LAST?
The duration of hair shedding is directly associated with the severity of stress and/or infection the body underwent. Hair shedding after Covid-19 can occur as an elongated side-effect of up to nineteen months from infection, expressing the level of fatigue the body is experiencing from the infection as it continues to recuperate.
Stress-induced and Covid-related hair shedding is reversible. The main trigger of hair shedding must be treated to reverse hair loss and promote new growth.
UNDERSTANDING THE HAIR CYCLE
The Hair Growth Cycle is the natural process the body continuously undergoes to produce hair growth. This process takes three to four months to complete. However, it is important to remember that not every hair follicle is in the same phase simultaneously. Hair will only grow during the anagen phase, and each hair follicle requires the proper nutrition and stimulation to begin the anagen regrowth phase again.
Anagen Phase: active growth phase lasting three to five years. For some, this phase can last seven years.
Catagen Phase: transitional phase lasting about ten days. Hair will stop growing in this phase, and the follicle will shrink. Telogen Phase: resting phase lasting up to three months until the hair falls out and the new hair begins the anagen phase.
HOW TO TREAT HAIR LOSS OR HAIR SHEDDING AND PROMOTE STRONG HAIR
Understanding the foundations of hair care will make hair growth and health much more attainable.
The ideal hair regrowth routine focuses on the main categories of hair care that collectively contribute to overall hair health and ultimately growth.
1. Scalp and Root: It is important to treat your scalp and roots as you would your skin as scalp health is akin to skin health.
2. Hair Strand: Half the effort of promoting hair health involves maintaining strand strength to build up endurance.
3. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition is vital when it comes to hair health. Hair must obtain the proper nutrition from vitamins and minerals to produce quality growth from the inside out. The use of products containing DHT blockers is also beneficial for regrowth.
If you or a loved one have been struggling with hair shedding more serious than telogen effluvium from stress or infection, it may be time to talk with a hair-loss expert, a dermatologist.