Many people report experiencing hair loss after they have had Covid-19. This can be very distressing for the sufferer and knock their confidence.
This type of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. It’s a temporary shedding of hair after a shock, virus or stress. The hair goes into a resting phase as the body diverts its resources where they are most needed. Digestion and the reproductive system are other areas of the body that go to the bottom of the priority list for the body when it’s in 'fight or flight' mode. Once the body comes back into balance, all these systems return to normal. But if there is any ongoing stress, worry or illness, it’s very hard for the body to get on top of it all.
Here are some ways you can support your body as much as possible to repair and come back to homeostasis.
- Get eight hours sleep. This is the top priority to heal and restore. If we are not getting enough sleep, the body doesn’t get time to work its magic and repair.
- Eat a 'whole foods' diet. Avoid nutrient scavengers like caffeine, sugar and cigarettes. Toxins are very taxing on the body, using up the vitamins and minerals from a person's diet to detoxify and avoid free radical damage which deteriorates the body's systems. Eat whole foods, and nothing processed. Whether you are a vegetarian or omnivore, make sure you’re getting enough protein, fat and healthy carbohydrates in your diet to support the body to build, work properly and heal. Not eating a balanced whole foods diet can lead to a lack of energy, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues and so on.
- Use a hair stimulating and strengthening shampoo, conditioner and treatment. Aveda Invati and Kerastase Genesis are designed specifically to deal with the issues that may contribute to hair loss. These products help to exfoliate and nourish the scalp as well as strengthen the hair fibres. This leads to thicker growth and stronger hair strands, due to the scalp being clear of build-up, bacteria and toxins. They also strengthen the hair with protein to stop breakage, keeping the hair strong so it can grow.
- Drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water a day. Severe hydration may accelerate hair loss, so make sure your body is getting its daily water intake.
- Ensure you get a balanced vitamin intake. Even having a good diet may not be sufficient, because the modern world has an overwhelming amount of toxins, and over-farming has depleted our soil of nutrients. We can no longer just rely on food alone, especially if we are recovering from an illness. Supplements that may help you in relation to hair loss include: a daily multi-vitamin, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, curcumin and omega 3 fatty acids (2-4g daily). Once the hair starts to thicken again, these supplements are still great for everyday wellbeing, but the doses need to be dropped back down to a standard amount (please see a nutritional therapist for specific issues and doses).
- Reduce stress levels. If the body is constantly in 'fight or flight' mode, it is difficult to switch back and return to balance. Find what works for you. This could include meditation, slow restorative yoga, walking in nature or breath work. The aim is to reduce the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol that are running around the body so the immune system can stop fighting stress and mop up the left-over damage from the virus.
- Use essential oils. These are great little gifts from nature we can use to support our body’s needs. Whether it’s for stress reduction (lavender) anxiety lowering (Copaiba), renewing and repairing (frankincense), immune support (oregano/tea tree), there is an oil for everything. They are emotional and physical helpers.
These are ways you can support your body to give it a helping hand and the best chance to recover as well as grow strong healthy hair.
And of course this doesn’t just apply to people who have had Covid-19. These are the foundations for health and well-being that lead to strong, shiny, luscious hair.