‘Shock hair loss’ is actually happening now because of COVID-19

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone stressed out.

Stress levels during the pandemic surpassed levels seen during the Great Recession in 2009 and safety measures like social distancing created a complicated landscape for those dealing with depression or stress to navigate.

While life can seem as mysterious as a Rorschach Test right now, experts aren’t certain how the pandemic will affect people in the long-term in many facets of life but there has been one common abnormality seen in many people due to the pandemic: hair loss.

Stress levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have people losing hair at a shocking rate in what medical experts are calling “shock hair loss,” according to reports.

ABC News reported that shock hair loss is popping up around doctor offices in the US due to the stress of the pandemic. While it isn’t an unusual condition, the phenomenon can take about three to four months to start appearing due to a stressor, the report notes. With stressors such as anxiety, depression, financial stress, and others, shock hair loss can make up to 50% of your hair prematurely shed.

“There’s no symptoms, there’s no itching, there’s no pain,” Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told the outlet.

The hair loss makes sense considering the coronavirus pandemic started in mid-March, which is why some people might be noticing more strands of hair falling out than usual.

Khetarpal said that shock hair loss isn’t unusual and it’s often seen in women weeks after childbirth.

“When there’s a big stress whether it’s physical, emotional, you get sick, this can be things like financial stress, medications, anxiety, really any big shock to your system can push up to 50% of those hairs prematurely into your shedding phase,” she said.

Fortunately, shock hair loss isn’t forever which means you won’t look bald. It takes about six months for the hair to grow back, according to Khetarpal.

She suggested reducing stress as one way of combating shock hair loss, while other lifestyle changes can help as well.

“Exercise, take care of yourself, make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet,” she said. “We know things like protein are the building blocks for our hair, our skin, and our nails, so make sure you’re eating a diet that has higher protein.”

The Cleveland Clinic also suggested a few other options if hair does not come back. Minocidil is a topical solution that can help regrow hair when applied directly into the scalp, but it’s not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.

Vitamins are also an option.

“If someone is deficient in vitamin D or iron, we know that their hair can shed. So that’s why we say that with a multivitamin, you can make sure you’re getting enough nutrients that you need for your hair,” she said.