July 18, 2024

The Pandemic Probably Caused Your Hair Loss – The New York Times

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With every month that passed in 2020, Samantha Hill’s part seemed to widen, the increasingly bald stripe of skin a representation of what she calls “a four-part terrible play” in her life. Reeling from the death of her father in January, Ms. Hill, a 29-year-old f…….

With every month that passed in 2020, Samantha Hill’s part seemed to widen, the increasingly bald stripe of skin a representation of what she calls “a four-part terrible play” in her life. Reeling from the death of her father in January, Ms. Hill, a 29-year-old freelance photographer, had barely adjusted to her new normal when the pandemic hit and further upended her life.

After the death of a friend in June, when her hair appeared to thin even more, she created a folder on her phone titled Hairgate, featuring every selfie she’d taken in the last four years.

“I was trying to figure out where it all went wrong,” said Ms. Hill, who lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

It’s a quandary many people, particularly women, have agonized over in recent months, as their brushes and shower drains filled with tangles of hair. Google searches for hair loss increased by 8 percent in the last 12 months, according to the data science firm Spate, with the topic being searched an average of more than 829,000 times a month in the United States.

The phenomenon is not all in our heads, according to experts, but is another frustrating byproduct of both immense stress and post-viral inflammation from Covid-19. Known as telogen effluvium in the medical world, temporary hair loss results from fever, illness and severe stress, pushing more hairs than normal into the shedding phase of the hair growth life cycle.

Although hair loss tends to be associated with men because of the prevalence of male-pattern baldness, telogen effluvium is more common among women, who often experience it after childbirth.

“Any type of severe stress can trigger it, whether it’s stress on your body from illness or emotional stress such as the death of a loved one,” said Dr. Abigail Cline, a dermatologist at New York Medical College who has conducted research on pandemic-related hair loss. “Even though not everyone has been infected with Covid-19, we’re all living with it.”

For those who have had the virus, hair loss has become a common symptom of the recovery process, usually occurring three to four months after getting sick but sometimes experienced sooner. Dr. Jerry Shapiro, a dermatologist at NYU Langone Health who specializes in hair loss, said that while a healthy head of hair usually includes 90 percent anagen, or growing, hairs and 10 percent telogen, or resting, hairs, that ratio can shift up to 50-50 after experiencing a high fever or flulike illness.</…….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/18/style/hair-loss-coronavirus-pandemic.html

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