COVID-19 hair loss is a real thing but doing this may help

Unbridled amounts of stress related to this unending pandemic and a fraught election week literally has folk’s patience and hairlines growing thin

So who’s the culprit behind this clump of hair in my shower drain? Stress is the number one cause for unprecedented amounts of hair loss in both men and women this year.

 Luckily, there are things you can do to reverse this worrisome trend and have the thick, illustrious head of hair you’ve always wanted. The secret is keeping a good head on your shoulders and indulging in self-care activities to soothe stress levels.

A recent brief featured in Real Simple magazine online goes into how you can rescue those distressed locs before it’s too late.

What is telogen effluvium and how is it affecting my hair loss?

Telogen effluvium is a fancy phrase for “shock hair loss.” Essentially human beings pressed under significant amounts of chronic stress will begin to exhibit signs of disparate amounts of hair loss due to the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, coursing through their system. This creates a hormonal imbalance directly affecting the health of your hair follicles. 

A specialist in managing hair loss, Gretchen Friese certified trichologist, reports the following helpful information to illuminate this phenomenon.

“Think of the life cycle of a follicle in three stages (growing, resting, and shedding). A hormonal imbalance can pause the growing phase and put large numbers of hair follicles into a resting (telogen) phase. This is the third phase of hair growth and the one before the hair sheds (exogen phase). When a larger than normal amount of follicles go into this resting phase, it will force more hair loss in the final shedding stage.”

The physiological stress of trying to bounce back after life altering events set in motion from the Coronavirus crisis takes its toll. Women who go through the extremely taxing event of going into labor and giving birth often experience shock hair loss as a result. This year has been full of life altering events for thousands of Americans so it is no surprise that several of them report signs of marked stress such as experiencing higher levels of hair loss.

When we are overwhelmed trying to adjust to the “new normal” that includes working from home, teaching our children remote, caring for sick relatives, or if you’re one of the unlucky ones furloughed this year, it’s far too much for our metabolic systems to handle all at once.

As we attempt to poorly manage the stress of those aforementioned events by leaning on toxic old coping mechanisms, the high amounts of cortisol shocking our system physically stunts the growing phase of our hair follicles. How do we go about managing stress in a healthy way that won’t harm the delicate hairs on top of our head?

Healthy ways to manage stress to prevent hair loss from getting out of control

Luckily for anyone experiencing hair loss this year it is most likely reversible. If you’re noticing more hair in your brush than normal, never fear, it’s just your body giving you a casual reminder to take a couple deep breaths and focus on preserving your mental health.

Gretchen Friese, trichologist for Bosley MD, adds, “Keeping stress levels down as much as possible is key. A good diet, sunlight exposure, exercise, and meditation are all great practices in stress management. Also, reach out to loved ones. Even a phone call can lift spirits and help people feel more connected and less isolated when we cant see each other in person.”

There are diets proven to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress you can incorporate into your daily routine. A daily “awe walk” can boost mood lifting endorphins and exercising outside helps aid those in need of Vitamin D to help improve the quarantine blues. 

Check out this recent research at Ladders that claims this Nordic way of life to be the secret to surviving this winter in lockdown here. Mindful meditation also works wonders for those trying to lower elevated stress levels. Here is a comprehensive guide to busting stress this year according to sound research by scientists from Yale and Harvard.

The takeaway

If you’re suffering from hair loss this year take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in this trend. Unlike genetic factors that lead to irreversible hair loss such as alopecia, losing hair from telogen effluvium is temporary and in your control to reverse the damage done.

 All we need to do is find healthier ways to deal with stress and opt out of stress eating or binge drinking like so many of us have resorted to during this wildly unpredictable year in direct detriment to our health. Stop pulling your hair out and start engaging in a healthier daily routine today, here’s a guide for you to get started on your ultimate wellness journey.