Many patients infected with the new coronavirus, even after recovering from the disease and being “healthy”, report a series of long-lasting symptoms, such as tiredness, headache and hair loss, for example. Some signs, such as the loss of hair in particular, can manifest without necessarily having affected the person in the first weeks of the disease.
One of the most frequent forms of severe hair loss is the telogen effluvium, which affects the entire scalp. Trichologist Viviane Coutinho, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Trichology (ABT), reveals that about 50% of the patients she receives in her office, located in Rio de Janeiro (RJ), seek treatments for hair loss due to Covid-19 .
She explains how the effluvia alter the life cycle of the hair.
“In general, the life cycle of hair strands is divided into three phases. In the first, called anagen, the hair grows nearly 1 cm per month for three years. Then it spends two to three weeks in the catagen phase, when it stops growing. The third and last is the telogen, which lasts from three to four months. This is where the hair falls when it is expelled by the new hair that is being formed in the same hair follicle – the hair root. ”
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The problem is that this cycle can change due to health problems, giving rise to the telogen effluvium. It anticipates the end of the hair’s life, as a much larger proportion of strands changes from the growth phase to the fall phase.
”The drop in wires varies from person to person, but usually he loses 30 to 150. However, in conditions such as telogen effluvium, this drop can reach 300 wires. This more massive loss causes a decrease in the volume of hair on the head as a whole ”, he points out.
“In general, patients with hair loss report that the wires start to fall in a much greater volume than normal around 1 to 3 months after the infection, just when the telogen effluvium usually occurs. It can be a traumatic process, but the tendency, in most cases, is that there will be recovery after a few months, especially with the improvement of the patient’s health in other aspects ”, says Viviane.
“It is common to experience a severe hair loss after more serious infectious diseases, such as dengue, chikungunya and zika”, he says. “What the most recent scientific research points out is that the coronavirus is possibly part of that group of diseases that are linked to the fall.”
One factor that these diseases have in common is the fever they cause in the body, since high temperatures can lead to hair loss. “At Covid, the infection itself and the reduction in oxygen in patients who have difficulty breathing reduces the oxygenation of the hair follicle and may justify this change”, informs the trichologist.
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Another type of hair loss related to coronavirus is alopecia areata. It results in localized falls, unlike effluvia, which reach the scalp equally. Thus, they can be seen on round or oval plates on the head.
“Alopecia areata is an aggression of lymphocytes that leave the blood and go to the skin. There are some publications that address the link between this hair loss and the coronavirus, but the causes are not yet very evident, since there are patients with genetic predisposition or autoimmune diseases, for example ”, he points out.
This condition can last from two to three years, even without Covid-19. Therefore, it is too early to determine how long people will be affected by this problem.
However, it is already possible to think about hair treatments, which help a lot the time of this condition, in addition to accelerating the stimulation of new hair replacement. Viviane describes how it works:
“The treatment consists of stopping the inflammatory process, stimulating the lost hair and reducing this process of falling. In the process, we use anti-inflammatory resources not only at the site of the fall, but also in a systemic manner, increasing circulation and oxygenation ”, he adds.
“In capillary therapy, we still develop a specific treatment for relaxation, reducing stress processes, which are also linked to the phenomena of effluvium and alopecia”, he adds.
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