Hair Loss - Why Coronavirus Isn't A Hoax
Updated: Sep 4, 2020
A post I've delayed writing, through fear or embarrassment - i'm not sure. What is the reality for your personal health post-covid?
If you’ve been online at all recently, you may have spotted the latest post-COVID symptom that’s been circulating alongside a significant amount of scepticism.
I mentioned before that I was floored with suspected COVID-19 back in March. I've recovered - obviously - but recovery itself hasn't been a smooth journey.
I started a new job and worked on my blog and for a good period of time I felt like I was back to myself, but then with no warning things began to reverse. It began in the shower, a phrase I'm sure you didn't expect to read here.
Clearly I have very heavily colour treated hair, pre-lockdown I had my roots done every six weeks and in-between times I topped up my own colour and beat the brassiness with purple shampoo. Despite more than four years of bleach, my hair is in really good condition - never underestimate the benefit of a leave-in conditioner.
The NHS say that It's considered normal to lose up to 100 strands of hair each day to maintain a healthy scalp, and given that I have thick hair in terms of strand thickness and of actual hair density this wasn't unusual to me. What was unusual was rinsing shampoo from my hair and my hands coming away holding the equivalent of a large rat in loose hair.
Standing in the shower I panicked. I was scared to condition my hair as I didn't want to touch it again, so despite having a pretty decent masking routine I got out of the shower and let my hair dry naturally to avoid heat or using brushes.
I didn't mention this to anyone at this point as I was a bit shocked, and in truth thought that if I ignored it - it might go away. It didn't.
That night Simon went into the bathroom and promptly came back out asking what the hell was in the bathroom, it was another clump of hair.
I phoned my mum in tears, like me she has amazingly thick hair and barely a grey to be seen. She did her best to calm me by saying it was probably just a wee blip. But the hair kept coming out. I ended up purchasing a caffeine shampoo but found that not only was it not slowing the rate of hair loss, it was making my hair oilier which warranted washing more often.
After a month of crying both during and after every shower, I called the GP. The locum I spoke to told me it was due to the caffeine shampoo, frustratingly my explanation that I had been losing hair for a long time beforehand fell on deaf ears.
I've talked before about my issues with my confidence and self esteem, I've suffered with anxiety for years and having one of the few things I liked about myself being taken away was a real impact on me mentally. So I called the GP again, and this time I got a different Dr who found after two rounds of tests that I have various vitamin deficiencies. This whole time I continued to lose hair. When washing, brushing, tying up, even sitting still I'd find hair all over me. Each time I pulled a handful of hair a new wave of panic would hit me.
I took to putting my hair in a bun and leaving it in the hopes that by not disturbing it I'd trick it into staying attached. Obviously this isn't the case.
Around this time I began trawling the internet for solutions to what I was now convinced was going to be full-scale balding. I didn't find too much that wasn't linked to hormone imbalances until I stumbled across a few local newspapers reporting a potential correlation between Coronavirus and hair loss.
I called the GP again, desperate for anything to help and clutching at this very tenuous 'evidence', but apparently there's absolutely nothing that can be prescribed on the NHS to deal with hair loss. I was told instead that the hair loss – Telogen Effluvium – was a post-viral response to COVID, and that there isn’t a treatment for it.
The extent of the advice given to me was to go online and order Nioxin. I'm in a position where I can drop like £35 on a tester sized kit, but plenty of people don't have that resource which is shit.
To give a bit of information on Telogen Effluvium - from the British Association of Dermatologists, it’s essentially when there is a marked increase in the numbers of hairs shed each day due to a higher proportion of hairs shifting from the ‘growing’ phase (anagen) to the ‘shedding’ phase (telogen). Usually around 10% of your hair is in the telogen phase, but this can increase to around 30% around three months after the trigger.
More and more headlines have been popping up notably featuring Alyssa Milano who has been refreshingly open about her struggles with Coronavirus and Boris Johnston who is allegedly sporting a thinner barnet.
Where I’ve really struggled recently however, is seeing the number of people ridiculing and dismissing this as being sheer vanity and still denying the existence of the Coronavirus.
You may – like me – have noticed some common themes among the bios of these accounts. I won't draw attention to this; however I will highlight that there seems to be general misunderstanding of the difference between a symptom and a side effect.
I didn’t spend three weeks needing help from my husband to get to the toilet, becoming out of breath just from sitting up in bed and being able to eat only frozen mango for some troll to tell me that I made it up as Coronavirus isn’t real, and that anyone concerned about hair loss is both lying and a vacuous waste of time.
Have you had to deal with any of the Coronavirus side-effects? I'd love to hear how you've dealt with it, and of course- let me know how you are now!