Is The Pandemic Making Me Lose My Hair?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

I reached out to a friend of mine, Cayli Cavaco, for some answers. She's not just a longtime beauty expert, but also a realisther cure for whatever's ailing me will not entail having to check into some trendy ashram where I must partake in a 10-day intermittent fasting experience with a tall, hearty glass of celery juice as a reward for good behavior at the end. The first person to consult if you are experiencing hair loss is your dermatologist, followed by an endocrinologist, and if you are a woman, a competent gynecologist, she advised me. With that said, the scalp should be treated like the face. A healthy scalp should yield healthy hair if everything is fine internally. Hormones, stress, and vitamin efficiency play a huge factor in a beautiful head of hair.

In the interest of addressing the hair loss issue in the most thorough and fact-based manner, we consulted with Dr. Doris Day, one of the top New York City dermatologists; renowned Los Angeles and Palm Beach-based endocrinologist Dr. Jordan Geller, and Dr. Thais Aliabadi, one of the top OB-GYNs on the West Coast. These three prominent medical professionals discussed freely and openly their thoughts on hair loss and the environmental, hormonal, and stress-related factors that come into play.

How Stress Contributes to Hair Loss

Dr. Doris Day: If someone is going through a particularly stressful time, hair loss tends to happen a few months later, because of the way the hair cycles. When you go through a period of major stress, the hair shifts from the growing phase to the resting phase during the stress experience. The resting phase lasts for 3-4 months, which is why you see the shedding months later. The hair loss that comes from stress is usually reversibleit's a shifting of the hair cycles, not a permanent change.

Dr. Jordan Geller: Hair loss tied to stress is called telogen effluvium, and it's the most common cause of hair loss that we see. The hair normally has three cycles (anagen, during which it grows; catagen, a transition phase, then telogen, the resting stage. Telogen effluvium usually occurs several months after a very stressful period, severe illness (such as Covid-19) or pregnancy and presents with a quick onset of hair shedding. This is caused from an abrupt shift into the telogen phase. Although we usually diagnose this based on a patient's history and exam of the scalp, it can also be confirmed by looking at the hair follicles under a microscope. In terms of stress-related hair loss being reversiblethis tends to be a temporary condition, as many women who have lost hair after pregnancy can attest to. If it is from stress or an illness, then it will typically resolve in time (as the underlying illness improves) and with better stress management. However, it is very important that your physician run tests for other reversible conditions such as iron deficiency, hormone imbalances, and other causes.

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