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Hair Loss after COVID…are you concerned?

The human body has about 5 million hair follicles that cycle through a three-step process. First, hair grows and pushes through the skin in the anagen stage. Then, hair will die during the catagen stage. Finally, hair falls out and regenerates during the telogen stage. Each day, you normally lose about 50 to 100 hairs.

Hair follicles remain in the anagen (growth) stage 85 to 90 percent of the time, which can take anywhere from two to four years. By comparison, the telogen (rest) stage may only last two to four months.

Stress hormones can put hair follicle stem cells into extended resting (telogen) phase. Therefore, stress be it physical or emotional or both, can alter cells at the base of hair follicles (dermal papilla) and inhibit molecules needed for hair growth. 

According to Sapna Palep, M.D., a dermatologist at in New York City, “Hair loss can be the result of several different factors, including genetics, hormones, medications, and general lifestyle choices. Most life stressors, including illness, emotional trauma, protein deprivation (during strict dieting), and hormonal changes like those in pregnancy, puberty, and menopause and thyroid conditions.

Many people worldwide have noticed clumps of hair falling (Telogen effluvium) from their scalp months after coming down with COVID. The inflammatory stressors created from the COVID virus shock your body and disrupt the growth-rest cycle. The result is increased shedding of hair – as much as 30 to 50 percent of hair follicles are in the telogen stage several months after becoming infected with COVID as opposed to 5 to 10%. Recent reports have suggested that COVID-19 may trigger a variety of autoimmune conditions, including Alopecia Areata.

Telogen effluvium isn’t just limited to COVID. It can occur for many reasons, including viral infections, after a surgery, hospitalization, hormonal changes, and stress.

Hair loss following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is an increasingly reported phenomenon in the United States and globally. Research has shown it is possible that the messenger RNA SARS-CoV-2 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can trigger a T cell-mediated immune response with the downstream effects of alopecia. 

A study published in the February 20th, 2022, Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) found that 84% of hair loss in 50 reports of Alopecia Areata occurred within 1 month of vaccination and sometimes within 1 week.

The Autoimmune Registry states, “One of the most common culprits behind hair loss, especially when it happens before age 50, is autoimmune alopecia, which affects somewhere between 14.7 and 23.5 million Americans.

Autoimmune alopecia occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy hair follicles causing varying degrees of hair loss ells in your immune system surround and attack your hair follicles (the part of your body that makes hair). This attack on a hair follicle causes the attached hair to fall out. often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter. The amount of hair you lose is different for everyone. However, the more hair follicles that your immune system attacks, the more hair loss you will have.

Studies have found that people with certain autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, have a vitamin D deficiency.

Some medications to treat the autoimmune diseases can lead to hair loss. Everyone responds differently to biologics and what one person may experience may be completely different from another person’s experience. 

Some Natural suggestions to slow down hair loss and begin hair renewal:

Collagen Type 1 & 3 : Your dermis contains collagen and elastin, which help make your dermis thick and supportive of your skin’s overall structure. All of your connective tissues, nerve endings, sweat glands, oil glands and hair follicles exist in your dermis. Collagen Type 1 & 3 are known for benefiting hair skin and nails. Type 1 collagen is the most abundant collagen (80%) in the dermis (middle part of your skin). 

In particular, collagen contributes to the elasticity, structure and strength of your dermis precisely where the hair root resides. With age, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen and replenishing cells in the dermis strengthening the structural support at the hair bulb preventing collapse. A number of studies have found that during anagen (growth) stage of the hair, the amount of collagen surrounding the hair bulb also increases and thickens – therefore providing enough structural support for the hair follicle to develop new hair.

Type 1 collagen from marine or bovine sources is the best option for hair and beauty-related needs because it is the richest source of essential amino acids like proline that can not only thicken hair, but also reduce hair loss and accelerate the speed of hair growth.

Biosil: is a supplement containing the minerals choline and silicon. Choline is an essential nutrient that is part of cell membranes and contributes to their strength. Silicon is a trace mineral that is involved in bone formation and growth. Biosil strengthens hair by increasing blood flow to the scalp and boosting collagen in the skin at the base of our hair follicles so that we produce thicker strands and hair grows faster.

Moducare is a blend of plant sterols and sterolins that help promote a balanced immune system.* Plant sterols – phytosterols and their glycosides (also known as phytosterolins) – are fats that are present in fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants. Beta-sitosterol (BSS) and its glycoside (BSSG) are the most abundant of these plant sterols. Specifically, these plant sterols can improve the balance of T-helper 1 to T-helper 2 cells, enhance cellular immunity, and down-regulate an overactive immune response.* Moducare supplementation also helps maintain a normal ratio of the two adrenal hormones, cortisol and DHEA, which helps to buffer negative stress responses.* Known as an immune stabilizer it can be an essential supplement for people with auto-immune disorders.

Dandelion Root : is a rich source of vitamin A, C and E as well as B-complex vitamins. Dandelion also contains choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, biotin, and calcium which play a significant role in making one’s hair healthy, stronger and to help stimulate hair growth. Dandelions help to reduce the production of pro inflammatory cytokines. The polysaccharides found in dandelions possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.  

A study published in the October 14, 2021, journal Pharmaceuticals researchers also reported the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) to block protein–protein interaction of SARS-COV-2 spike protein (COVID) to the human ACE2 receptor. Dandelion is also well known as a natural diuretic and therefore will increase urination. Suggested use 1 cup dandelion tea or 2 capsules in the morning or early afternoon.

Rosemary Oil : Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, has found Rosemary Oil can improve the blood circulation around the hair follicles. It also contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which can speed up the process of cell turnover and growth.

Rosemary oil is best worked into the scalp. Mix a few drops of rosemary oil with any carrier oil, like argan or sweet almond oil, and massage it into your scalp 20 minutes before you take a shower, or you can mix it directly into your shampoo.

Caffeine Topically:  Published in the December 2019 Korean Journal of Cosmetic Science showed clinical results, where caffeine-containing shampoo improved hair density after 24 weeks of testing. The results of the study suggest that caffeine maintains the health of hair follicles and induces growth by increasing energy levels inside hair follicle cells and thereby promoting cell growth by enhancing nutrient supply.

Research published in the August 2020 British Journal of Dermatology found caffeine relaxes hair follicles in androgenic alopecia. Topical application of caffeine in AGA can thus be attributed to inhibition of phosphodiesterase, improvement in barrier function, follicular penetration, stimulation and promotion of hair growth. Caffeine topically has been found to naturally counteract the effects dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — a hormone that promotes hair loss by causing hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop generating hair. DHT stunts hair growth by binding with hair follicles and preventing the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required to keep the hair cycle functioning normally.

If hair follicles are not damaged hair regrowth can take anywhere from six to nine months and possibly as many as 18 months to become full again. Hair grows about a centimeter per month so your hair may seem thin for a while. Short, baby hairs will appear first on your scalp that will get thicker and fuller over time. For women with longer hair, it may take two years or more to regrow hair long enough to see noticeable improvement again.

Don’t tug on your hair when combing it and be sure to use a conditioner when showering to reduce tangles. Curling irons, hair straighteners or other devices that heat your hair may damage or weaken hair follicles. Avoid hair styles that put excess tension on your hair and scalp.

Hair loss can be a result of various health concerns, however don’t give up hope. There are many ways to improve your health naturally.

 If you want to schedule a telephone or in-office appointment for more specific help at the Tree of Life Wellness Center call 508-336-4242 Monday-Friday 9:30am-6pm EST and Saturday’s 10:30am-3pm EST.

Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center

Host Holistic Healthline Radio