Shedding Some Light


This month, I'm going to get serious on you.


We've all been living under this Covid cloud for the last 8 months, the experts keep learning more and more about the virus every day.


As folks contract it and -- God willing -- recover, we're now starting to understand some of the lingering symptoms and unexpected side effects.


But Cortney, you're a hairdresser. Why on Earth are you blogging about this?


Because one of the most significant side effects of Covid, especially for women, is sudden and significant hair loss.


This trend has become less anecdotal and is now being reported by CBS News and the CDC, and is discussed widely in the Covid-survivor support community.


Let's get into it.



Telogen Effluvium



There are many kinds of alopecia (hair loss), some with genetic causes, others related to Celiac disease or recently having a baby. For the sake of this article, I'll be talking about telogen effluvium, "a form of temporary hair loss that usually happens after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event."


I wrote a blog about two years ago after I got very sick while on vacation and lost a ton of hair long after I had recovered. That article goes into non-science-y detail about the cycle of hair growth and how trauma (such as high fevers and/or severe illness) can result in hair loss. And how you can tell if what you're experiencing is telogen effluvium.


Essentially -- in the case of Covid -- when we get super sick our body shuts down any unnecessary energy output in order to fight the virus. Things like growing hair. This will shift a significant percentage of hair roots from the active growth stage, to a brief stint in the rest phase, and settling into the shed phase.


How significant? Like 50%-of-your-hair-significant.


So many women are starting to talk about "sudden" hair loss that's occurring primarily on the top of the scalp. This aspect is unusual for telogen effluvium (which is more of a global hair loss), but this could be attributed to the high fevers Covid produces. The top of the head would be hotter than the back and sides, shutting down a larger percentage of hair roots in the crown.


Because of the natural process of hair shedding, there is a delay in hair loss. Depending on your source, some say 1-3 months, others 3-5. Initially it will go unnoticed until you're in it for a couple of weeks...and then it gets worse....and then it won't quit.


Think about the timeline: folks who started getting sick in this Spring would have started noticing hair loss anywhere from July to this Fall.


And we know how shaming it can feel, as women, to talk about losing our hair.


It's unclear as to why this seems to be affecting women more than men: honestly it may not be, it's only possibly more noticeable as women tend to wear their hair longer....making the snarl in the brush or shower drain even more scary.


The good news is that as the hair is being shed likely means there is a new hair bulb (and eventually hair itself) growing in it's place inside your follicle.


The bad news? Because hair grows so slow, it make take some serious time to regain the density that was lost.


If you're a Covid-survivor -- or love someone who is -- it might be good to Google "Covid and hair loss" in order to prep for this. It's very likely this may show up, and forewarning can be reassuring. Or just send this blog link to them as a gentle nudge to do their own research.


I really hope I'm wrong on this one....but I don't think I am.


Stay strong and healthy out there, we WILL beat this! <3

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