Pandemic Hair Loss
"Hey Kris. My hair is falling out in clumps. It's scaring me how much of my hair I see in the shower. I'm afraid that I won't have any hair left at this rate. Do you have anything that will help me?" Although not a direct quote, this was a conversation that I had with one of my good friends. After a series of questions, we came to the conclusion that Covid 19 had caused my friend to start losing her hair. But, this didn't make sense to me. How could she have experienced hair loss from covid when no one has mentioned hair loss as a side-effect!?!
A quick google search confirmed my worst nightmare. Dermatologist confirmed a significant increase in hair loss 2-3 months after contracting covid. Almost one month after having this conversation with my friend, I had to be taken to urgent care in the middle of the night. I came home with two things: 1) some unexpected news about my health that would significantly impact my life and the life of my family and 2) covid.
Here's how it happened. As I sat in the waiting room waiting to be seen, I saw an older man who was coughing. He had a mask on, so I didn't think anything of it. He was coughing so much that he went to the restroom. Once he came out, I noticed that his mask was down. Delirious from the pain I was experiencing while waiting to be seen, I thought that I was hallucinating. But, I wasn't. He then began to cough...open mouthed... with his mask down. Mind you, this was during the height of covid when masks were required and not optional. Needless to say, I knew (before I officially knew) that I was exposed to covid.
The Numbered Curls business shut down. I was down for the count. Everything on my body hurt. Night time was the scariest part as breathing was so difficult that I was afraid of suffocating in my sleep. But, what scared me even more than this was the potential hair loss. I was scared that I... the owner of Numbered Curls... a natural hair care company would start to experience hair loss 2-3 months later. And I did!
This devastated me. Every shower became more and more depressing as I saw my hair coming out in clumps. Although not ideal, I'm thankful because it allowed me to understand something that's been impacting women for years now: telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium
According to Brian Abittan, MD, the director of skin and hair rejuvenation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, "Telogen effluvium occurs when a larger proportion of hairs on the scalp shift into this resting phase, resulting in shedding at a higher rate. It's normal for patients to lose about 100 hairs a day, Abittan said. But with telogen effluvium, patients could lose up to 300, 500, or even 1,000 hairs each day" he added.
In fact, telogen effluvium is the reason why many women see signification hair loss after having a baby. Although temporary, telogen effluvium can be caused by a number of things: stress, hormonal changes, medications, nutritional deficiencies, and some medical conditions. Think about it this way... When your body goes through anything traumatic, there is a potential for telogen effluvium. That means when your body experiences physical trauma (having a baby, illness, surgery, etc.) there's the potential for telogen effluvium. If your body experiences emotional trauma, telogen effluvium can happen in those instances too! Think stress, the loss of a family member, friend, or loved one. All of this can swing your hair (no matter where it is in the 4 stages of hair growth) all the way to the 4th phase which is when your hair sheds.
Don't worry. I can hear you now. "Ok Kris. That's great information for me but what can I do about it!?!" Great question!