I think that we can all say, without a doubt that COVID-19 has caused many of us some major stress over these last few months, but to what extent? The stress has not only been affecting our mental health but our physical health too. A common issue people are seeing in their day to day life is stress-related hair loss.
What is stress-related hair loss?
There are three different types of hair loss associated with stress, the first being Telogen Effluvium which is when stress forces a significant amount of hair into a resting phase, which makes it easier for the hairs to fall out. People notice this while they are washing, combing, or styling their hair. Another type would be Trichotillomania, which is a mental disorder that is caused by stress, that creates an uncontrollable urge to pull out one’s hair on their scalp, or anywhere else on their body. The last type of stress-related hair loss would be Alopecia areata, stress is not the only cause of this disorder, but it is a major factor. This happens when “the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles-causing hair loss” (Hall-Flavin Mayo Clinic).
How does this correlate to the pandemic?
COVID-19 is causing major stress to everyone, not just those who have been directly affected by the virus. According to the American Psychological Association, 76% of Americans say the pandemic is a major cause of their stress. There are many factors contributing to COVID-19 related stress, some being from the loss of jobs, working from home, social isolation, fear of catching the virus, money problems and so much more. Even if you are now working from home, still at the office, or out of a job, the pandemic has significantly changed our day to day lives, resulting in stress.
The most common type of hair loss people are experiencing due to the pandemic is Telogen Effluvium, and it’s even more common than you think. So many families are stuck working from home, while also helping their children through school, just having kids and a job is a cause of stress, but now having to do it all at once, is making it even more stressful.
How to combat it?
There is a positive side to all of this, Telogen Effluvium is temporary. Once the stress of the pandemic dies down, your hair should regrow, and the hair loss will cease. But how do we calm our stress even during the pandemic? Stress is something that is completely out of our control, we never know when our stressors will happen, but there are ways to cope. The CDC has a few recommendations on how to cope, eating a regular balanced diet, is a very effective way to combat this stress-related hair loss. Eggs, spinach, berries, avocados, and nuts are just some easy foods to incorporate into your diet to not only help you with having a balanced diet, but are proven to help initiate hair growth. Other helpful things to reduce stress are exercise, meditation, lots of sleep, and reducing excessive tobacco and alcohol use, according to the CDC.
Although stress-related hair loss may cause even more stress, it’s important to remember it is only temporary and there are things we can do to prevent it.
“Coronavirus Pandemic Is a Significant Source of Stress.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2020, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/11/coronavirus-pandemic-stress.
Hall-Flavin, Daniel K. “Can Stress Make You Lose Your Hair?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress-and-hair-loss/faq-20057820.