We talked last month about hair loss associated with ‘long haul’ COVID patients, but now doctors are saying they have noticed an increase in the number of non-COVID patients seeking hair loss treatment over the past few months.
So how can COVID be causing your hair loss if you haven’t even had the virus? Well, sadly the answer could be to do with stress.
The lockdown stress factor
Even if you haven’t had COVID and don’t feel particularly concerned about the virus itself, chances are 2020 has been a difficult year for you.
Some of us have lost our jobs, or been furloughed on minimal pay. Others have been trying to juggle childcare and homeschooling with holding down a full-time job. Or maybe you live alone and have felt isolated, unable to participate in the activities that would usually provide a social lifeline.
Whatever your personal situation, lockdown has been hard on all of us. You might be one of the lucky ones with no financial concerns and a relatively non-challenging homelife, but even so, just the knowledge that you can’t go out and socialise with others outside of your household can add a background tension that you perhaps aren’t aware of.
Stress and hair loss
Stress has long been known to be a major factor when it comes to hair loss. Major emotional or physiological trauma can cause sudden, dramatic balding, but more insidious, day-to-day stressors can also have an impact.
There are three types of hair loss that are most likely to be caused by stress:
- Telogen effluvium – where large numbers of hair follicles are pushed into the “resting” phase of the hair life cycle early, causing the affected hairs to fall out. Although usually temporary, the condition can be devastating
- Trichotillomania – a compulsion to pull out your own hair, eyelashes or brows
- Alopecia areata – although this is an auto-immune condition, it is thought that it can also be stress induced. Alopecia areata can present as patchy or complete hair loss. It’s usually temporary but can recur and in rare cases the hair loss can be permanent
Lockdown hair loss
Although the likelihood is that COVID stress has sparked all three of these hair loss conditions, the main ones doctors have been reporting are telogen effluvium and alopecia areata.
Alopecia is more likely to occur suddenly at the time of a major stressful event and can be very obvious, with specific bald patches appearing on the scalp.
Telogen effluvium, on the other hand, often doesn’t become apparent until a few months after the stressor, and presents as more of a diffuse thinning of the hair. Although it is usually temporary, ongoing stress can produce ongoing thinning, so you can see how this year could be causing some pretty serious hair loss issues for some.
If you have noticed bald patches, or an unusually large amount of hair shedding over recent months, it’s probably advisable to contact a doctor or hair loss specialist to find out what you can do about it.
For more information or to book a consultation, please call us on our COVID Hair Loss Advice Hotline 0121 809 2747.