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Are you facing COVID-19-related hair loss? Know all about causes, ways to combat it

Many people who have recovered from COVID-19 experience hair fall because the physical and emotional stress that accompanies a case of COVID-19 can lead to a reversible hair loss condition called Telogen Effluvium.

July 29, 2021 / 07:05 PM IST
According to doctors, COVID-19 patients experience hair loss a month after recovering from the disease. In some cases, hair loss is observed during the infection period, too. (Representative image. )

According to doctors, COVID-19 patients experience hair loss a month after recovering from the disease. In some cases, hair loss is observed during the infection period, too. (Representative image. )

Hair loss is a lesser-known effect, but perhaps not wholly uncommon, symptom of COVID-19. Studies have shown that among long-haul symptoms like fatigue, coughs and muscle aches, hair loss has been reported in large numbers too.

According to doctors, COVID-19 patients experience hair loss a month after recovering from the disease. In some cases, hair loss is observed during the infection period too.

A growing number of coronavirus patients, including Malaika Arora took to social media to reveal she had been dealing with "intense hair fall post recovery."

While some COVID-19 patients did not face extreme hair loss, for some it was severe.

Why does that happen?

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Deficiencies due to change in dietary habits, fever during the infection, stress, anxiety, sudden hormonal changes and persistent post-COVID inflammatory reactions are some of the reasons for the temporary hair loss, doctors at Delhi's Indraprastha Apollo Hospital which has seen a 100 percent rise in complaints of hair loss among coronavirus patients, said.

Many people who have recovered from COVID-19 experience hair fall because the physical and emotional stress that accompanies a case of COVID-19 can lead to a reversible hair loss condition called Telogen Effluvium.

"It is a result of the shock the body sustains after suffering from fever and other symptoms during COVID-19," Dr Kuldeep Singh, senior consultant, cosmetology and plastic surgery said.

Normally a person can lose up to 100 hair per day, but it can increase to 300-400 hair per day due to Telogen Effluvium, he added.

What is Telogen Effluvium?

Our hair goes through three phases of growth or cycle broadly termed as Anagen (hair growth), Catagen (transition period) and Telogen (resting or hair shedding period).

When a person experiences any emotional or physical shock or is recovering from a major illness hair fall usually increases due to hormonal and other changes in the body. 80-90 percent of people’s hair are in the Anagen phase and it’s normal for a person in this cycle to experience hair loss of 80-100 strands per day.

However, in the Telogen Effluvium phase, our hair goes from Anogen to Telogen phase due to physical or mental stress or shock. Hence, excessive hair shedding takes places.

What can you do to combat hair shedding?

The doctors suggested that after recovering from COVID-19, one should have a nutritious diet along with natural edible sources of vitamins and iron. Iron deficiency can accentuate hair loss, while a protein-rich, balanced diet reduces hair fall.

People should approach a doctor only if excessive hair loss persists even after consuming a nutritious diet for five to six weeks.

Some common hair care solutions that can be administered to prevent excessive hair loss are -- use of mild, paraben and sulphate-free shampoos, keeping a close check on the itchy and flaky scalp, refraining from oiling and massaging the scalp, using a wide-tooth comb and seeking immediate medical intervention in case of development of bald patches and huge volume of hair fall.

One should avoid stress, meditate, eat healthy, take natural nutritional supplements, avoid heat and chemicals for hairstyling and refrain from following a sedentary lifestyle, the doctors said.
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first published: Jul 29, 2021 07:05 pm
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