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October 12th 2020 / 0 comment
If you've noticed more hair fall than usual, you're not alone. In times of stress and illness it's common to lose more hair. Dr Sophie Shotter explains the myriad reasons your hair could be falling out, from stress, change in the season and Covid
The list of long-term side effects of Covid seems to be growing (red or purple lesions on the toes known as Covid toe and loss of fitness stamina to name but two) and now it's been revealed that another possible side effect of the virus is hair fall. Google searches for Covid hair loss have soared in the last 30 days and in a study carried out by a doctor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, hair loss was identified as a long-term symptom of Coronavirus, while Dr Sharon Wong of the British Association of Dermatologists confirmed that those who suffered with Covid-19 symptoms in March and April began to notice hair shedding around June and July.
Dr Sophie Shotter, medical director and founder of the Illuminate Clinic in Kent explains several of the reasons we might be experiencing hair loss, and confirmed that having tested positive for Covid is one of them. “In people who have had Covid, once they’ve recovered around six weeks later their hair starts to thin,” Sophie says. “This is because while you’re so, sick your body drives all of your resources, all of your nutrients and all of your energy to healing [your body] rather than growing hair.”
There are many other reasons your hair could be falling out - including change of the season. Our hair naturally sheds more in autumn and spring, something called 'seasonal moulting' which is completely normal according to Dr Sophie, who detailed several other causes of hair fall in her video.
“Mental, emotional stress or physical stress can cause your hair to fall out; a major life event such as a divorce or if you've been unwell can all affect your hair,” says Dr Sophie. “The stress on your body means your hair follicles have been undernourished and you start to shed hair.”
If you’ve been on a diet recently and returned to eating normally you might have noticed more strands on your hairbrush than usual; don’t fret. The lack of calories while you were dieting might have meant your follicles went to sleep and then when they’re nourished again and hair starts to grow the dead follicles are pushed out and along with it, the hair that was in them, Dr Sophie explains.
Luscious flowing locks are common when you’re expecting thanks to an increase of oestrogen in the body. After you give birth oestrogen dips and your hair will fall out. It will recover but it can be emotionally difficult when you’re adjusting to a new you at the same time, says Sophie.
As well as pregnancy, other periods of hormone changes can cause changes in hair growth. “If you go through a sudden hormonal change such as coming off the contraceptive pill after having been on it for a long time, or developing a hormonal disease such as an under or overactive thyroid or polycystic ovaries, this can impact our internal balance and show in our hair,” explains Sophie.
“If you develop a hormonal condition that causes your hair to thin, you need to address the hormonal imbalance to recover your hair growth. In some cases, this might be as simple as giving your body time to rebalance after stopping the pill but if it’s a thyroid condition you will almost certainly need medical treatment," she says.
Sophie often sees people in her clinic suffering from hair loss and suggests a variety of different treatments such as PRP, Platelet-Rich-Plasma therapy, where blood is taken from your arm and injected back into the scalp to drive hair growth, to growth factor mesotherapy which injects growth factors that have been developed in labs into the scalp to nourish and enhance the scalp.
Your hair loss could be as simple as a build-up of product on your scalp which is blocking your follicles from functioning properly. “We use a lot on our hair and are doing nothing to help our scalp. Use an at-home scalp scrub to clear build-up and allow hair to grow better," she advises.
We recommend Oribe's Serene Scalp Exfoliating Scrub, £46.50. It has both physical and chemical exfoliators to gently remove dead skin, oil, dirt and product build-up to purify the scalp, creating the optimal environment for healthy hair, plus it smells like a salon treatment. For scalp scrubs for every budget check out our edit of the best exfoliating scalp scrubs.
Dr Sophie also recommends supplementing with vitamin D because it stimulates new and old hair follicles. When there isn't enough in your system, new hair growth can be stunted. She suggests taking a hair supplement such as Viviscal Professional, from £38.99, which include hair growth-supporting ingredients including biotin and marine extract. She also suggests using a scalp serum with caffeine to support hair growth (we tried caffeine shampoo Plantur 39, £9.75) and were impressed with the results). For a budget try out The Inkey List's Caffeine Stimulating Scalp Treatment, £12.99.
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