Are you suffering from COVID related alopecia?
Covid 19 hit the whole world like a gush of wind tumbling a stack of cards! No matter who you were, what you knew or whom you thought you were, the pandemic sent fear through your body and a gush of cortisol flooding through your adrenal glands!
The effects this had on our mental health were profound, anxiety was at an all-time high and the markers for oxidative stress (stress induced by external symptoms)were severely increased!
As a brand-owner and trainee trichologist, that sets out to actively research solutions for the issues black men and women face with their hair and skin, our business had an influx of customers dealing with a phenomenon called 'Covid 19 hair loss.
It was as if each week there were 10 messages from women who were rock-bottom depressed due to their hair loss symptoms.
If you were on social media you may have seen small pockets of people who were complaining of excessive hair shedding, bald spots and just a complete overwhelm in relation to what was happening to their hair.
STRESS CREATES HAIRLOSS!
The most common reason for this Pandemic related alopecia was stress, anxiety, catching the virus and becoming really unwell and the shock and resulting inflammation caused within the body.
Telogen Effluvium was a very common type of hair loss seen during and even now after the pandemic had somewhat died down. Telogen Effluvium is a shock-related hairless, I in fact suffered from it myself, coupled with alopecia areata. Telogen Effluvium occurs when our body has a severe reaction to the stress we have experienced. The follicles are stimulated to move into the shedding or resting phase of the hair-growth cycle, so you will experience handfuls or even notice an excessive amount of thinning in one area on your head.
Alopecia areata was another common form of hair loss we saw being reported, again relating to the illness but more so increased levels of stress and anxiety which disrupts the homeostasis of the hormones in the body. Alopecia Areata shows up as patchy areas of hair loss on the scalp. An infection from covid19 may have triggered the response your body may have had to the follicles. With Alopecia areata, the body attacks them due to a deficiency in the immune system.
As black women, we are even more predisposed to high levels of cortisol, this symptom may increase the levels of the male hormone testosterone in the body which when metabolises with other chemicals converts to a dangerous hormone called Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT as it is more commonly known as.
An attack of DHT leads to yet another common form of hair loss reported during the pandemic, female or male pattern baldness. This shows up as hair loss mainly in the crown area of the scalp.
Male Pattern Baldness - DHT
This common form of alopecia strictly relates to the negative effects the male hormone (testosterone) has on healthy hair follicles. DHT (converted from testosterone) attacks the follicles, with the aim to kill them. DHT reverses your follicles ability to produce healthy 'normal' strands of hair. It converts the follicle factory, to a production unit that will only produce fine weaker strands of hair, known as vellus hair. A process called deminiturisation (shrinking of the hairs produced).
This is why you have thinning and patches on the scalp, as your once 0.7mm diameter strands of hair have been replaced by almost translucent fine hair strands akin to the hair on a newborn baby body!
Hairloss in any format is a stress-inducing occurrence on its own! So if you are experiencing severe forms of hair loss or thinning and you have an increase in anxiety or cortisol, (the stress hormone), you are in a vicious cycle!
What is the Solution?
Alopecia, which refers to all kinds of hair loss, must be treated as early as it appears! In other words, if you are someone who wears a wig, braids, a weave, your natural hair or locs and you have noticed a slight thinning. yet you have not sought any help for it, you may be in danger. Alopecia can be helped if you catch it early!
Hiding your thinning spot or balding scalp under a scarf or even with parts of your healthier hair, will not cause the hair to regrow, you need to take action.
In my own case, I decided to cut my long hair last year, or 'Big Chop' due to the thinning of hair I experienced in the crown. Having short hair is still something I am adjusting to, but I wanted to prevent further hairloss by stopping the condition I had in its tracks! I wanted to reduce inflammation in my body and on my scalp around and in the follicles.
I also began to look for new solutions to reduce inflammation on the scalp naturally and I started with treatment, I had been researching for 6 months prior, and I had to import it from India. I then committed myself to a really strict weekend routine for my hair and scalp. I dedicated a portion of my time to th9s routine that I would do weekly.
I also tried to reduce my stress levels, I have beengoiung to the gym, I am now Vegan, as opposed to vegetarian now! I am basically trying to craete a healthy balance witrhin my body to allow it to produce healthyt hair again, howver I know it will not happen overnight!
My hair has started to recover. However, when I say recover, as it has only been 11 months, I am patiently awaiting the crown area of my hair to catch up with the remaining hair length that has since grown. I have kept cutting my hair as I have noticed the crown area, although not bald, it grows back at a much slower pace. This is quite normal. You need to have a huge dose of patience when dealing with alopecia!
Plant Made Solutions
I have been using our Harvest Hair growth kit weekly, alternating between the 2 x oils. I have also been using a topical treatment that reduces inflammation, which we will launch in the summer, in addition, I have been steaming my hair and my scalp, plus using our natural shampoo to keep the follicles clear. It is really important to really look after the remaining hair if you are suffering from hair loss. This obviously depends on the severity. It is also really important to seek professional advice and help if you are really struggling.