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Your Healthy Family: Coronavirus Stress May Cause ‘Shock Hair Loss’

Posted at 11:01 AM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 13:01:31-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — If you’re pulling out your hair over COVID-19 – you’re not alone.

Doctors around the world are reporting more cases of ‘shock hair loss’ due to pandemic stress.

Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, said some people shed large amounts of hair after a stressful event.

“When there's a big stress whether it's physical, emotional, you get sick, this can be things like financial stress, medications, anxiety, really any big shock to your system can push up to 50% of those hairs prematurely into your shedding phase,” she said.

When we experience something extremely stressful, it can take two-to-three months before hair starts to fall out, or shed, which is why doctors believe they’re seeing more hair loss complaints now – since it’s been a few months since the start of the pandemic.

Shock hair loss isn’t unusual and is commonly experienced by women a few weeks after childbirth, according to Dr. Khetarpal.

She said not to worry though – hair grows back and most cases resolve on their own within about six months.

If you’re looking for ways to protect your luscious locks, in addition to reducing stress, she said there are a few things you can try.

“Exercise, take care of yourself, make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet,” said Dr. Khetarpal. “We know things like protein are the building blocks for our hair, our skin, and our nails, so make sure you’re eating a diet that has higher protein.”

Dr. Khetarpal said once your body recovers from stress, you’ll want to make sure your hair has the nutrients it needs to rebuild – antioxidants, multivitamins and biotin may help strengthen hair.

And if hair isn’t coming back in like it should, over-the-counter minoxidil may help encourage it to regrow, but it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.