In coronavirus pandemic, expect the unexpected.
Temporary hair loss is normal after a fever or illness
Fever is a symptom of COVID-19. Few months after high fever or recovery from an illness, many people notice hair loss. It’s not hair loss, it’s actually hair shedding telogen effluvium . It happens when more than normal hairs enter the shedding (telogen) phase of the hair cycle at the same time. A fever or illness can force hairs into the shedding phase.
People notice hair shedding 2-3 months after a fever or illness. Handfuls of hair come out while showering or brushing hair. Hair shedding can last 6-9 months before it stops. Hairs start to look normal again and shedding stops.
Telogen effluvium can cause noticeable hair shedding. In case of a rash, itchy scalp, or burning, see a dermatologist.
Stress can cause temporary hair shedding
Even if you didn’t have a fever or COVID-19, you may get hair shedding. Emotional stress can cause more hairs than normal to enter the shedding phase. Everyone is feeling more stressed and anxious during the pandemic. Hair shedding begins 2-3 months after the stress. Hair falling out in clumps can add to the stress. De-stressing will stop the excessive hair shedding.
Hair shedding due to a fever, illness, or stress, tends to normalize on its own. Most will get normal hair fullness within 6-9 months.
If something other than telogen effluvium is causing hair-loss, a dermatologist can help confirm the diagnosis.
Minoxidil: 5% minoxidil liquid or foam application to the scalp helps to slow down the progression of hair loss and may partially restore hair. Minoxidil liquid or foam is applied on the affected scalp (not the hair) using a pump spray or dropper device. It is spread evenly over the hair loss affected area lightly and does not need to be massaged in. Minoxidil can cause skin dryness, redness, itching and/or scaling at the site of application and should not be applied on cuts or open wounds. It should be used for at least 6 months before any benefit may be noticed. Any response obtained is only maintained for as long as the treatment is continued. Minoxidil may cause hairs to fall initially during the first 2-8 weeks of treatment, and usually this subsides when new hairs start to grow.
Finasteride: Finasteride tablets reduce levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone, slows down hair loss and helps in regrowth of hair. Continuous use for 3 – 6 months is required before a benefit can be usually seen. Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction are recognized side-effects of this treatment. Beneficial effects on hair growth are lost within 6 to 12 months of discontinuing treatment.
All topical and oral treatments work only till the time treatment is continued.
Wigs and hair pieces:
Wigs, toupees, and hair extensions are helpful in disguising hair loss. There are two types of hairpiece; synthetic or made from real hair.
Synthetic wigs and hairpieces usually last about 6 -9 months, are easy to wash and maintain, but may be susceptible to heat damage and are hot to wear.
Real hair wigs or hairpieces look more natural, can be styled easily and are cooler to wear.
Spray preparations containing small, pigmented fibers help to disguise hair loss affected area. These preparations wash away if the hair gets wet, and only tend to last between shampooing.
Surgical treatment includes.
- hair transplantation, a procedure where hair follicles are taken from the sides and back of the scalp and transplanted onto the bald areas; and
- scalp reduction, where a section of bald area is excised, and the hair-bearing scalp is stretched to cover the gap. Tissue expanders are used to stretch the skin.
- Platelet rich Plasma Therapy: PRP is a safe and effective hair loss treatment. The procedure involves blood centrifugation that separates red blood cells from plasma. Plasma rich in platelets containing growth factors is injected into the patient’s hair follicles. Injections are given once a month for the first three months, and then once every three to six months thereafter. Patients may notice less loss of hair after therapy. PRP therapy has high success and satisfaction rates in patients with hereditary hair baldness or thinning. PRP may be used as an adjuvant with other medical treatments to give patients the best possible results.
Protect bald areas of your scalp from sun to prevent sunburn and to reduce the chances of developing long-term sun damage.