The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are the shortness of breath, loss of taste, cough, fever, and fatigue that global health organizations warn us about. There are now several reports and studies about the long-term consequences patients face after their recovery. Among them is hair loss, also known as alopecia. While this is a cosmetic change, it can be a devastating side effect for many individuals. If you are trying to recover from COVID-19 hair loss, you might wonder about your options. We outline the reasons behind your alopecia and some of the common treatments below.
What Causes COVID-19 Hair Loss?
Hair growth goes through three stages: growth, resting, and shedding. At any given moment, the vast majority of your hairs should be in the growth phase. A much smaller amount are in the resting and shedding stages. However, when you experience Telogen Effluvium, up to 50% of your hair is in the shedding phase. As a result, you tend to lose chunks of hair, especially when you are brushing or washing it.
A strenuous or traumatic event usually triggers Telogen Effluvium. The condition often occurs a few months after the event has passed — many COVID-19 patients experience alopecia two to three months after they recover. The events that trigger this condition include:
- Periods of high mental stress
- Severe illness
The good news is that this condition is temporary — but it does take time to resolve itself. Before your hair goes back to normal, you will usually experience shedding for six to nine months. If you are interested in regulating your hair sooner rather than later, we detail treatments below.
Before any treatments, you can optimize hair growth by ensuring a proper nutrient balance. Eat a well-balanced diet and take a multivitamin if your physician recommends it. If you have those bases covered, you might consider one of the only two FDA-approved treatments for alopecia: Minoxidil or Finasteride.
Minoxidil (known as Rogaine)
Minoxidil is a liquid or foam that you apply to your scalp. It is normally used for patients with male and female pattern baldness, but it is best for those who have just started experiencing hair loss. This product does not require a prescription from your physician, but you should discuss your treatment course with them.
Finasteride (known as Propecia)
Finasteride is an oral medication that stops alopecia in its tracks and produces new hair growth. It is typically used for patients with male pattern baldness. This treatment prevents your body from turning testosterone into DHT, a hormone that can damage men’s hair follicles. To get this product, you will require a prescription.
A note on supplementation: While biotin is important for hair, skin, and nail health, high-dose biotin supplements may not be the best option. A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that excess biotin can lead to false results in blood tests used to diagnose heart attacks. The amount in most biotin supplements far exceeds the amount your body uses.
Personalized Compounded Treatments
As you know, sometimes one size fits all treatment as the FDA approved mentioned above might not be sufficient, not work well or have undesirable side effects. For example, many Minoxidil preparations contain Propylene Glycol, and many people are sensitive to it. That’s when compounded preparation may help you.
As a compounding pharmacy, we can make different combinations that may be more helpful and effective and tailored to your unique needs.
A sample combination is: Minoxidil 7.5% + Clobetasol Prop 0.05% + Tretinoin 0.025% Foam or Lotion Propylene Glycol Free. Other Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients that can be frequently combined with Minoxidil are Finasteride, Dutasteride, Bimatoprost, and Spironolactone. We could even add some nutrients like Biotin, Vitamin D, Melatonin, which have some evidence to help Hair Loss problems.
What is the Impact of COVID-19 Hair Loss on Patients?
COVID-19 hair loss is a severe medical condition that can profoundly impact patients. In some cases, it can make it difficult for people to go about their day-to-day lives. The anxiety, stress, and isolation associated with this condition can be extremely harmful. In addition, it can lead to decreased sleep and nutritional levels, damaged scalp skin, and depression. In some cases, hair may not grow back at all.
Moreover, patients may experience social isolation and difficulty finding work. They may also have trouble maintaining relationships due to their isolation and mood. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffers from COVID-19 hair loss, it is important to seek professional help.
Interested in knowing if the FDA regulates compounding pharmacies? Continue reading at https://marcodrugs.com/are-compounding-pharmacies-regulated-by-the-fda/.
How Long Does Hair Shedding Last?
While it may take some time for a bout with telogen effluvium to pass, most cases will stay under control. Hairs that have prematurely shifted into the telogen phase shed after a traumatic event such as a COVID-19 infection. Those hairs will slowly shift back to normal when that period is over. While it may take some time for hair to grow during a bout with this condition, the follicles are still in their normal state of development and will eventually regrow at a slower rate.
Dr. Powell Perng is a dermatologist who specializes in medical dermatology, including caring for people with alopecia and skin conditions that affect people of color. He says it takes over two years for the average person’s hair to grow back and for the ponytail to feel full again.
Patients who may experience excessive hair shedding after a short period of time, such as only six months, may be experiencing chronic telogen effluvium. In this particular case, Perng says that the hairs are typically shorter and darker than normal. Medical therapy is often used to treat these symptoms, which can sometimes last for a couple of months to a couple of years
Lastly, Perng reassures patients who experience chronic telogen effluvium that they will not lose all of their hair because the proportion of telogen hairs never exceeds 50 percent.
COVID-19 Infection And Hair Shedding
On average, people who experience COVID-19 infection have hair shedding sooner than three months. Other studies have also noticed a faster recovery period once infected, ranging from two to three months.
Fill Your Hair Treatment Medication
Talk to your doctor about treatments for COVID-19 hair loss or other common Hair Loss problems. If you or your doctor need assistance in determining the best course of action, please feel free to call our Compounding Pharmacist for guidance on what we can do for you. Also, do not forget to ask us for Marco Drugs and Compounding Private Label nutritional supplements to support your hair, skin and nails, and other health needs. Reach us at (305) 665 – 4411.