Apparently 12 percent of women are destined to have experienced abnormal hair loss by age 30 as per statistics. And it’s a number that is growing due to the pressures of modern life. But making matters much worse and converting strands into fistfuls is a new reality – the Covid-19 hair loss. We are all stressed and one of the unintended victims of this stress is fast becoming our hair. Millions of people are battling job losses, pay cuts and affected business cycles. It is estimated that the world economy is heading towards a deep recession, from which it will take years to recover. An after effect of this stress is hair loss.
What’s causing the tress-stress?
Agrees Dr Rinky Kapoor, cosmetic dermatologist, “These are unprecedented times and are tough on everybody. Nobody and nothing ever prepared the world for this situation. Social isolation, grim economic conditions, anxiety about the virus, longer and erratic working hours and uncertainty about job and income, lack of exercise and altered eating habits, everything about this pandemic has increased the stress levels.” This psychological stress can cause telogen effluvium. “In the last few months, more and more patients are coming in complaining of losing hair at an accelerated rate and fear they are going bald. Telogen effluvium is the most common type of hair fall related to stress but we have also had patients coming in with Trichotillomania (urge to pull one’s hair) and alopecia areata,” adds Dr Kapoor.
When the body is under stress, it goes into a “conservation type mode,” shifting the hair cycle so that more strands get pushed into the resting phase, leading to more shedding. In this state, the body’s resources are diverted to core essential activities needed for survival and away from such activities as good skin blood flow, growth, and reproduction. With severe stress, hair follicles prematurely enter a phase of growth arrest called telogen, which is shortly followed by hair loss, one of the first signs of stress. Now shedding of hair can itself cause a lot of stress, making it a vicious cycle which necessitates immediate attention.
Women must self-care
While it affects everybody, shedding hair is a bigger issue with women than men. Explains Dr Geeta Grewal, an anti-aging, beauty and wellness expert, “Women have a lot on their plate right now with more housework in the absence of maids, office work and kids’ online classes. Meditation is a good way to get into self care mode and build yourself stronger from within.” Also exercise and a well-balanced diet that includes a lot of protein are ways to help combat this type of hair loss. “Eat foods rich in iron and omega 3 like dark or unprocessed cocoa powder, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds and walnuts. One should also precondition their hair with organic coconut & hibiscus oil and use a hydrating shampoo that is Sulphur and Paraben free,” adds Dr Grewal.
The good news in all this is that anxiety-induced hair loss is reversible. Hair shed due to telogen effluvium are not permanently gone — they will get pushed back into the growth cycle over the next weeks to months. Just dial up your self-care.