SINGAPORE: Jane*, a stay-home mum to 2 school-going children, got here to see me at my clinic lately complaining of accelerating hair loss because the begin of the circuit breaker interval.
She mentioned she was shedding in extra of 200 strands of hair a day.
She had been feeling harassed throughout that interval the place she needed to look after her youngsters, mother and father and have a tendency to family chores whereas being cooped up at residence. She felt positive in any other case, not exhibiting any signs of sickness.
THE HIDDEN VICTIMS OF COVID-19
Tales like Jane’s complaining of extra hair loss since COVID-19 morphed right into a pandemic have been extra commonplace in Singapore.
Girls greater than males have a tendency to hunt medical consideration for hair loss in our expertise, maybe as a result of they’re extra acutely aware concerning the impression to their bodily look.
The Cleveland Clinic, one of many high hospitals within the US, has equally reported seeing extra sufferers for stress-related hair loss.
This pandemic has impacted the lives of many individuals all around the world, economically, bodily and mentally. You could possibly be a sufferer of the an infection, a breadwinner who misplaced your job or simply the common Joe pressured to remain residence as a result of lockdown measures.
However even individuals who have managed to not catch the an infection to date have had their lives disrupted in unimaginable methods.
The psychological stress related to the socioeconomic fall-out and stringent public well being measures, coupled with the problem of getting by means of every day, could cause hair loss.
Medical doctors around the globe are reporting an increase in stress-related hair loss. Continual stress could be on the coronary heart of those circumstances.
Sungkyunkwan College Faculty of Medication in Seoul did a research involving 13,000 males confirmed that males who labored greater than 52 hours per week misplaced twice as a lot hair as males who labored lower than 40 hours per week.
WHY DOES INCREASED HAIR LOSS HAPPEN?
Telogen Effluvium is the commonest type of hair loss. The hairs on our scalp undergo a standard cycle of development, relaxation after which shedding.
When one suffers from an acute or power sickness, this cycle is disrupted and extra hairs are shunted into the shedding section, leading to elevated hair loss.
The identical happens when an individual is harassed. Telogen effluvium may also be brought on by sure drugs, main surgical procedure, dietary deficiencies, little one delivery and main organ dysfunction such because the kidney or liver.
Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune situation the place the physique’s personal immune cells injury the hair cells, inflicting them to fall off, is one other wrongdoer of hair loss.
The hair fall could be diffusely over your complete scalp, or extra generally over a localized space, giving rise to a focal bald patch. An acute sickness or stress could be the set off that causes this immune mediated self-damage of our hair.
We regularly have a tendency to think about older adults who might undergo from these afflictions however even youths is probably not spared.
One other affected person I met was an adolescent, Sarah, who was introduced by her mom for enlarging bald patches on her scalp. Her mom mentioned that her daughter couldn’t focus throughout her home-based faculty classes and was struggling along with her homework.
She had began pulling at her hair and these actions acquired extra frequent and extreme the extra harassed she was, leading to these enlarging bald patches.
Trichotillomania, the situation Sarah has, is a 3rd and least widespread type of hair loss the place folks begin pulling out their hair as a stress response. Individuals react and reply to stress in numerous methods. Some folks take heed to music to alleviate stress. Some folks binge eat, whereas others take part in train.
The trigger is commonly an underlying psychological dysfunction or stress. The person develops an irresistible compulsion to tug hair from their scalp.
These sufferers usually current with irregular bald patches on the scalp and damaged hair strands of various lengths.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH HAIR LOSS?
Somebody affected not directly by COVID-19 might expertise hair loss. Hair fall in extra of 80 to 100 strands a day is taken into account irregular.
There are clearly many different causes of hair loss. Hair loss could be fast or gradual, focal or diffuse. Thankfully, within the three sorts of instances above, the hair loss is commonly self-limiting as soon as the preliminary sickness or stress is over, and the hair often grows again.
Individuals are likely to underestimate the impression of hair loss and overlook the change in bodily look is usually a blow to 1’s self worth, particularly if it occurs quickly. An undesirable vicious cycle might happen when the stress of coping with hair loss aggravates the scenario.
Individuals usually suppose hair loss could be attributed to excessive MSG consumption however in my expertise, it’s not a particular food regimen, however an imbalanced food regimen missing in vitamins necessary for wholesome hair, together with iron, zinc and vitamin D.
Excessive conditions akin to these seen in sufferers with anorexia nervosa, leading to fast and drastic loss in weight, can also be a shock to the physique that may result in hair loss, usually compounded by dietary deficiencies because of excessive weight-reduction plan habits.
This pandemic doesn’t appear to be one that can move quickly. We are going to possible see extra instances of individuals affected by hair loss, associated to COVID-19 or not.
What are you able to do if you’re affected by hair loss throughout this era?
My recommendation is to seek the advice of a healthcare skilled, akin to a dermatologist, who’s skilled to handle hair loss.
READ: Commentary: Immobility during COVID-19 and its effects on our sleep, physical activity and well-being
The physician would ask extra questions through the seek the advice of to see if additional investigations, together with blood exams and a scalp biopsy, could also be required to uncover any scalp problems.
A scalp biopsy is the sampling of scalp tissue by way of a scalpel. That is achieved below native anesthesia and the wound is stitched up, leaving you with a small scar.
The physician would then advocate varied therapies relying on the almost definitely trigger. Individuals ought to word that remedy responses, together with these involving lotions, oral dietary supplements or steroid injections for autoimmune circumstances, will take time, even these are profitable, as hair takes time to regrow.
Sarah has since gone again to high school and now enjoys her time along with her associates. She is coping higher with classes and her faculty work.
Her mom has observed that she now not pulls at her hair and new hair has regrown.
Jane has additionally seen a discount within the charge of her hair fall after her stress ranges got here down when the circuit breaker measures had been lifted.
*Pseudonyms had been used for this commentary.
Dr Chris Tan Lixian is a Advisor within the Division of Dermatology, Division of Medication, on the Nationwide College Hospital.