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WITH the stress of the coronavirus pandemic following us from 2020 to 2021 combined with harsh winter temperatures – it’s normal for people to be experiencing issues with their scalp.
Some of us may have gotten out of the habit of caring for our locks but experts say stress caused by Covid-19 could be damaging our hair.
The stress of the coronavirus pandemic has meant many people are experiencing hair loss and scalp issues Credit: Getty – Contributor
Studies show that being stressed can cause our hair to fall out and can also cause scalp issues.
Hair falls out when stress forces hair follicles into a “resting” phase so that new strands aren’t produced.
This in turn can make hair fall out more easily and might be why your brush and combs have more hair in them than usual.
With many of us back to working from home, some might also be struggling to keep a healthy balanced diet while the biscuit tin is in view.
Telogen effluvium (TE) is a hair condition that can be caused by stress, poor nutrition and changes in hormones.
Speaking to The Sun, one expert said before the third national lockdown there had been an increase in people attending her clinic with issues such as hair loss.
If there is more hair on your brush than usual it might be down to Covid-related stress Credit: Getty – Contributor
Trichologist Samantha Stewart from the Spencer Clinic said a lot of patients attending the South Kensington clinic were “shedding hair”.
She said: “We discovered that a lot of the patients we were seeing with this type of hair loss had either had Covid-19 or their excess hair fall was a result of the stress that the Covid-19 pandemic was causing.
“Triggers such as stress and illness can cause an interruption in the growing phase of the hair cycle (Anagen).
“This interruption causes an increased number of hairs to prematurely stop growing and subsequently shed some two to three months later.
“This is known as telogen effluvium.”
So how can you prevent your locks becoming damaged by Covid-related stress? Here the experts reveal six things you can do to help prevent a flaky scalp and hair loss.
1. Wash your hair less
Experts say you should be looking after your hair with both a great shampoo and conditioner.
Speaking to The Sun, Coline Benjamin, owner of CELF Haircare said washing your hair less could actually help you if you’re suffering from hair loss and scalp issues caused by the pandemic.
She said: “We recommend washing your hair every two to three days for Caucasian hair and every two 2 weeks for curly/afro hair during winter, unless otherwise required.
“Washing hair too much will strip it off natural oils from the hair and scalp, further causing it to dry or dehydrate which can be extremely damaging and can result in hair loss overtime.
Experts says that washing your hair too often can strip your hair of its natural oils Credit: Getty – Contributor
2. Deep condition
Coline said that many people with Covid stress also have conditions such as Psoriasis and dandruff.
She added: “Having a deep conditioning treatment will strengthen the hair, nourish, restore much needed moisture in the hair preventing damage and split ends.
“We at CELF have seen clients who complain of Psoriasis which goes together with stress, more cases during the last few difficult months.
“Here, I recommend scalp rejuvenating products which benefit with Psoriases.”
She said products rich in oleic acid, vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants would help revitalise the hair and scalp.
Coline added: “Especially products with natural oils like argan oil, olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil which we love experimenting with. “
“Also people with Covid stress, tend to have gut issues which means extreme oily-flaky-itchy skin or dandruff-prone scalp.
“If so try to avoid stepping out with wet hair or sleeping with wet hair at night or even wearing a cap, head gear or head scarf when hair is wet. “
What is Telogen Effluvium (TE)
TE is when a person temporarily experiences hair loss.
TE occurs when the number of the follices in the scalp changes.
It usually affects the top of the scalp and in most cases the hair line will not recede if someone experiences TE.
Severe cases of TE will spread to the eyebrows and other parts of the body.
Patients are often diagnosed with TE after a serious illness, a large amount of weight loss or a severe fever.
Doctors have said that this usually occurs if a patient has recently experienced a stressful situation.
It was also reported earlier this year that one in four coronavirus sufferers have experienced hair loss.
An online survey was conducted of 1,500 people who have survived Covid.
The results from the Survivor Corp Facebook group found that 27 per cent of people had experienced some form of hair loss.
This could be hair loss of the scalp, or on other parts of the body such as the eyebrows.
3. Try a supplement
Samantha said there are some supplements on the market that can help with issues such as hair shedding.
Gummies such as Hair Gain can directly target the molecules within the dermal papilla cells.
Samantha said: “It’s scientifically proven formula containing the exclusive AnaGain ingredient stimulates these specific molecules and helps re-establish the normal growing phase and decrease the excess shedding.”
Hair expert Adam Reed, who is an ambassador for Viviscal added: “In terms of breakage, it’s all about prevention. One of the most important things is taking a supplement.
Taking supplements can help enhance the health of your hair and hair growth Credit: OJO – Getty
“I’m a massive fan of supplements and incorporating Omgea-3s, flaxseed and linseed into the diet.
“These are vital for hair health and it’s important to note that the hair is the first thing your body forgets.
“Consistency is also important when taking supplements, so your body is given that continual ‘boost’ that supplements provide.”
4. Avoid trigger foods
Anabel Kingsley, brand president and consultant trichologist at Philip Kingsley said your diet could be having a bigger impact on your hair than you might think.
She said you should avoid triggering foods that may result in a flare up.
While these foods might be different for everyone, Annabel said you should steer clear of wine, sugary and spicy foods.
Instead, she said, you should eat plenty of iron and complex carbohydrates.
Dr Johanna Ward, Founder of ZENii.co.uk said when people are unwell or feeling rundown they often experience a reduction in appetite.
Experts say you can avoid hair issues by making sure you have a balanced diet Credit: Getty – Contributor
This means that calorie and nutrient intake depletes at the time of illness.
She said: “This is unfortunate as the body needs nutrient dense foods during a period of illness for healing, repair and immune activity.
“It’s important to try to maintain some food intake to try to fortify and nourish the body when it needs it most. Food is our cellular fuel and forms the building blocks of your immune system.
The most important thing is to make sure you are getting enough nutrients.
“Making sure you are taking enough antioxidants – kale, broccoli, spinach, shitak mushrooms and acai are wonderful for skin support.”
WHY AM I HAVING ISSUES WITH MY SCALP DURING LOCKDOWN?
Experts at Taylor Taylor London said most people are at risk of two potential scalp issues during lockdown, bizarrely at opposite ends of the scale
The first issue, they say, is that both your scalp and hair can dry out from being indoors in modern, centrally heated houses.
“As we are spending much longer inside during this lockdown we need pay extra attention to our skin and hair.
“Remember our scalp is an extension of the skin on our body and face and needs as much care.”
The second issue they say is that our current levels of isolation mean we are less concerned about our appearance – with many people washing their hair less than usual.
“While this is a great principle in reclaiming the overall health of your hair and scalp and gives you an opportunity to rebalance your natural oils if you are using the wrong products it can lead to an excessive build up of product residue.
“These residues can weigh your hair down and prevent moisture from entering the hair shaft, ultimately they even work to attract first and grime this creating a perfect storm.
“If the residue also forms around the follicle on the scalp it can effectively choke the new hair growth and cell renewal.”
6. Use oils
While many of us might think oils are a no go to put on your hair, Adam said it’s a product he swears by.
He said: “Anybody whose hair I’ve done will know that they will have an oil, whatever that hair type is; it’s about the amount that you use and the quality of the oil.
“Put hair oil on to wet hair and you will be left with protected, glossy, shiny hair.”
7. Ditch the curling wand
We all know that using heat on our hair can be damaging and if you’re scalp and locks are already looking sad due to Covid stress then it’s probably best to put down the curling tongs and straighteners.
Experts say you can create perfect mermaid waves while you sleep without having to use heated wands.
Michael Angelo, founder, and creative director of Wonderland Beauty Parlor said: “Twist hair into four flat Princess Leia buns (one above each ear, one at each side of the nape of your neck) and go to sleep.
“The style is super comfortable to sleep on and you can wake up and shake loose effortless beachy waves!”