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.
PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is a nonsurgical treatment for hair-loss in which platelets are extracted from blood and are injected into areas with thinning hair on the scalp. PRP therapy is still not FDA-approved as hair loss treatment, however, the studies done on PRP have found it to be safe and effective for both age-related hair loss and pattern baldness. It is considered an inexpensive, and less invasive treatment option to surgery. PRP stimulates the hair follicles, slows down hair loss and helps in new hair growth.
During PRP treatment, platelets are centrifuged from your blood and separated to concentrate the growth factors. After injecting into scalp, PRP increases the blood flow to hair follicles and stimulates the growth of new and dormant follicles. It lengthens the anagen (active) phase of the hair cycle resulting in increased number of hair follicles and increased thickness of the hair shaft.”
Pros and Cons of PRP therapy for hair loss?
- PRP therapy is nonsurgical and safe with no downtime. The entire procedure takes about 45 minutes.
- Both men and women respond well to PRP treatment in terms of increased hair thickness and growth
- Primary objective of the PRP therapy is to slow down or stop the progression of hair loss.
- This treatment is inexpensive as compared to hair transplant surgery.
- Results are temporary. Up to six treatments may be required spaced 4-6 weeks apart, and maintenance treatments every few months thereafter.
- PRP results depend on the extent and duration of hair loss. The earlier PRP is administered after hair loss onset the better. People with long standing baldness and large areas of baldness don’t usually get good results in terms of hair regrowth, but PRP can still be used to stop further progression of hair loss.
- PRP does not work in 100% of patients.
What is androgenetic alopecia?
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of progressive hair loss. It is also known as male-pattern baldness, female-pattern baldness, or just common baldness. It affects about 50% of men over the age of 50, and about 50% of women over the age of 65.
What causes androgenetic alopecia?
Androgenetic alopecia is caused by a genetically determined sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in some areas of the scalp. DHT shortens the growth (anagen), phase of the hair cycle, from a usual duration of 3–6 years to just weeks or months. The hairs produced by the follicles become progressively shorter in length, smaller in diameterand lighter in color; until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
Is androgenetic alopecia hereditary?
Yes, genetic susceptibility to this condition can be inherited from either or both parents.Several genes are involved, accounting for differing age of onset, progression, pattern and severity of hair loss in family members.
What does androgenetic alopecia look like?
It is characterized by receding hairline and hair loss on the top and front of the head in males. Female pattern hair loss presents with thinning hair on the mid-frontal area of the scalp, with nearly complete preservation of the frontal hairline.
What treatment options are available for male pattern hair loss?
Current treatment options include:
- Hair transplantation
- Cosmetic camouflage-hair fiber
- Micropigmentation (tattoo) to resemble shaven scalp
- Minoxidil solution
- Finasteride tablets (type II 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor)
- Platelet rich plasma therapy
- Low level laser light
- Ketoconazole shampoo
Is hair loss just a cosmetic issue?
Hair loss can have a negative psychological impact and is associated with low self-esteem, depression, introversion, and feelings of unattractiveness.
Cover any bald patches with a hat or wig to protect to prevent sunburn and to reduce the chances of developing long-term sun damage.