"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

More fallout from COVID-19

It's surprising to see a handful of hair clumping within the shower drain or smudged in your hairbrush. But when you've had COVID-19 previously several months, this painful hair loss will not be a coincidence.

“It's literally adding insult to injury. First you get sick with COVID, then you lose your hair,” says Dr. Scott. “Many patients have come to me crying after losing up to 30 percent of their hair. I think most of them were surprised to learn that it was related to COVID.”

Scalp symptoms that deserve a physician's attention.

  • Itching or burning, which can indicate an inflammatory scalp condition.
  • Persistent hair loss, especially six or more months after a COVID-19 infection or other physical or mental stress
  • Weak regrowth.

More distinguished in women

Research published previously two years has increasingly make clear COVID-related hair loss. A study published in 2021 The Lancet It indicated that about 22 percent of patients hospitalized with the virus developed severe hair loss inside six months of discharge. Meanwhile, a 2020 survey found that greater than 1 / 4 of the nearly 1,600 members of a COVID survivor group experienced abnormal hair loss after recovery.

Women usually tend to notice it than men, if only because our clothes are longer and fuller. “If you're losing a lot of long hair, it's more obvious than if you're losing a lot of short hair,” says Dr. Scott.

But Covid-19 just isn't unique in its thinning traces. This is the latest known trigger for a long-recognized medical phenomenon called telogen effluvium, or TE. This happens when our normal hair growth is disrupted by severe physical or emotional stress.

Usually emerging two to 4 months after a shock to the system comparable to surgery, high fever, drug use, or illness, TE can weaken our menses for months.

A prescription for patience

Regrowth happens slowly, it normally takes six to 12 months on your locks to look normal again. “Given time, your hair will grow back,” says Dr. Scott. “That's all most people ultimately want to know.”

Try over-the-counter products. Topical minoxidil (Rogaine) can increase blood flow to the hair follicle.

Avoid harsh hair habits. Don't pull your hair into a good ponytail or brush it too hard. Similarly, avoid using hair dye, peroxide and chemical straighteners. “New wires are delicate,” says Dr. Scott. “You want to be really gentle with them.”

Get a haircut. It could seem counterintuitive, but cutting hair in layers that mix lush and grey areas can increase your satisfaction as your strands fill out.

Check nutrient levels. Ask your doctor to measure your thyroid, vitamin D and iron levels, as any deficiency can worsen hair loss. Unless you're deficient, nonetheless, taking supplements won't stop hair loss.

Pump up protein intake. A balanced weight loss plan that features several servings of protein-rich foods every day can promote hair health.

Stay away from “hair growth” supplements. Collagen and biotin complement labels often claim that these products can reduce hair loss or support recent growth. But research doesn't support these claims, says Dr. Scott. Too high biotin levels may interfere with some laboratory test readings.

Photo: © Alexander Zubkov/Getty Images