How the Pandemic is Causing Hair Loss

We are a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. We are a year into lockdowns, school closures, social distancing, and endless Zoom meetings. We are a year into the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, and we are a year into constantly worrying about our health and that of our loved ones, many of whom we haven’t seen since this all began. Oh, and during that time, we had months of social unrest, a contentious election, and an attempted insurrection.

That is a lot to deal with over a long, long time – and it is taking its toll. Experts have seen significant increases in anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and, unsurprisingly, chronic stress. In turn, this is causing unwelcome yet predictable consequences, even in people who remain otherwise healthy and manage to steer clear of the virus. One of those consequences is hair loss.

Hair Loss Is A Symptom of COVID-19

For those who get sick with COVID-19, hair loss is a frequent phenomenon. As recently reported in the New York Times, hair loss has become a common symptom of the recovery process, usually occurring three to four months after a patient gets infected but sometimes happening sooner. 

Post-viral inflammation from the coronavirus, and the fever and severe stress it causes the body as it tries to fight back, can cause a temporary hair loss condition called telogen effluvium. This condition pushes more hair follicles than usual into the shedding phase of the hair growth life cycle.

Stress-Related Hair Loss Due To The Pandemic

But even people who don’t get sick from COVID-19 are experiencing telogen effluvium due to the constant stress, anxiety, and pressures caused by the pandemic. As a story by NPR summarized it: “a growing catalog of research shows that high levels of stress over an extended period of time can drastically alter physical function and affect nearly every organ system.”

Whether caused by COVID or other factors, stress has a clear connection to hair shedding and loss. Overproduction of stress hormones can promote adrenal fatigue, which occurs when the body produces too much cortisol and underproduces other necessary hormones like aldosterone and androgens, resulting in thinning or balding hair. 

Stress can also lead to hair loss because it often keeps people from sleeping as much as they need to. Insufficient sleep causes hair to stop growing, weaken, and eventually fall out more than it otherwise would. Even hair that doesn’t fall out will noticeably suffer, losing shine and volume.

If the times we live in are causing you undue stress, find a stress-reducing outlet.  Exercise, meditation, or yoga can help relieve some of the mental anguish that stress causes. But do whatever works for you, whether being with friends (safely), being alone with a book, walking your dog, or doing nothing at all.

The Miami Hair Institute Is Committed To Helping Our Patients Through These Difficult Times

These have been challenging times for all of us. At the Miami Hair Institute, we know how difficult and stressful things can be as we cope with the ongoing uncertainties and disruptions caused by COVID-19. If you are experiencing hair loss, that can make matters even more stressful. We remain committed to helping our clients address their hair loss issues safely and effectively.   To receive your personalized evaluation and treatment plan, contact us online or call our office directly at 305-925-0222.