Covid-19 and hair: why the cases of female alopecia are increasing

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From a typically male problem, baldness, also known as alopecia, is becoming over the years an increasingly feminine issue. According to the latest statistics, in fact, they would be over four million women who suffer from it in Italy, about one in four.

Stress, hereditary predisposition, excessive cosmetic treatments, menopause, eating disorders and deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or changes, such as following pregnancy, are just some of the possible causes.

The first symptoms to look out for are a copious hair loss, concentrated mainly in the central area of ​​the head or in the front, until their progressive thinning.

As for the triggers, however, they are much wider than one might think or have been mistakenly believed in the past and also include the infamous Coronavirus.

Both as an indirect cause linked to the stress of the period, and as a direct trigger. Think that more than 30% of people affected by Covid-19 has so far also manifested a significant hair loss.

But what is the relationship between hair loss and Coronavirus? Is this a reversible consequence?

We talked about it with the expert, Dr. Mauro Conti, Scientific Director of the Group HairClinic and President of the National Baldness Observatory, aware of the fact that we are still in the field of scientific research and there are no certain data that link the two phenomena.

Doctor, first of all, why does hair fall out?
«First of all it should be emphasized that those who suffer from hair loss do not have a hair problem but follicles, those blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrition to the bulb. Therefore, when you have a problem related to hair loss it is almost useless to act with drug or product therapies that aim to cure the hair, you have to work on the health of the follicle.
The hair can be considered as a seedling and the follicle its vessel. In this there are all the elements to be able to give birth, grow, develop, “wither”, fall and replace with a new hair. In the vessel, however, a perifollicular capillary network must not be missing which, through the blood, carries oxygen and nourishment. Unfortunately the blood sometimes carries toxic substances that undermine the health of the hair and here it falls out before its time and, in the worst case, it is not reborn ».

What does Covid-19 have to do with these problems that can arise and even lead to baldness?
“From what is known so far, Covid-19 can impact both directly and indirectly on hair health and cause, in the most serious cases, an irreversible fall of these.
In an indirect way acts through stress that we suffer and have suffered in these months of psychological pressure due to the pandemic. What we have experienced, and which we are partly still experiencing, has caused not only mental fatigue due to thoughts, worries, fears, anxieties, but also physiological stress caused by the various lockdowns that have confined us in the house for a long time, causing us to fail. those healthy habits of movement and physical activity outdoors. These phenomena have caused even one in many situation of follicular distress due to vasoconstriction naturally caused by stress. And hence the hair loss ».

And how directly can Covid-19 cause hair loss?
«Anyone who has suffered from Covid-19 has had one enzymatic cascade of cytokines, protein molecules produced by various types of cells, secreted in response to a stimulus and capable of inducing activities such as growth, differentiation and death. This phenomenon has developed precisely because the body has natural defense mechanisms to be able to fight infections. These inflammatory virus reaction proteins they are deposited inside the capillaries creating obstruction. So the follicles have not received the normal nutrients and oxygen they need to survive and have closed or atrophied, causing hair loss. Furthermore, during the acute phase of the disease we tend to eat little and this leads to significant weight loss and consequently also to hair loss. A phenomenon that also occurs every time you have strict diets or in case of anorexia and bulimia, which are in fact among the major triggers of female pattern baldness. Hair loss due to Coronavirus is part of that post-viral syndrome called Long Covid which can debilitate a person in many respects and last even after healing and the consequent elimination of the virus from the body ».

Are there any viable solutions for this problem?
“First of all, I advise not to make a drama out of it. Surely the doctor will be able to understand, evaluating the situation as a whole, if it is a transitory problem, the so-called effluvium, that is a great fall without having a basis of androgenetic alopecia, or a problem related to the latter. In any case from avoid self-evaluation and self-care. It is necessary to go to a specialist to have, first of all, a correct diagnosis and then an adequate therapy for the problem “.

In the case of a passing phenomenon, the situation tends to re-normalize itself or with the support of supplements and drugs to be used topically, but if the problem becomes permanent and represents a real form of alopecia, then the therapeutic approach must be multisiciplinary and personalized.

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