A woman has revealed how she lost huge chunks of her hair due to stress, and struggled to find a remedy for the startling loss of her once healthy locks.
Camilla, who doesn’t want her last name to be shared, told Daily Mail Australia she began losing her hair last May during the UK’s strict months-long lockdown.
The woman, who lives in London, worked with naturopaths over Zoom, tried caffeine shampoos, changed her diet and took up to 26 supplements a day to try to make her hair stop falling out. But nothing worked and the supplements just made her feel nauseous.
Her comments come as experts continue to investigate the links between Covid-19 and hair loss, with a new scientific paper warning almost a quarter of patients experience thinning in the six months after infection.
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A young woman has revealed how she lost huge chunks of her hair due to stress, and struggled to find a remedy for the startling loss of her once healthy locks.
Camilla, who doesn’t want her last name to be shared, told Daily Mail Australia she began losing her hair last May during the UK’s strict months-long lock down
Speaking about her hair loss, Camilla explained: ‘It was very stressful not knowing if it would get worse or grow back at all or even stay like that forever.’
At first Camilla didn’t worry too much, finding she could hide the fast-developing bald patch which was at the back of her head.
She also felt because she was stuck at home so no one could see her anyway.
But as the strict lock down measures began to relax and Camilla was able to head back outside and see her friends she became self conscious.
She has describe the pills as ‘life savers’ and shown off her amazing new hair, noting she no longer has any baldness.
Her hair continued to fall out and, by late August, the top of her head started shedding, making her hair loss impossible to hide.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS?
It is perfectly normal for people to lose small amounts of hair as it replenishes itself and, on average, people can shed between 50 and 100 hairs per day.
However, if people start to lose entire patches of hair or large amounts of it it can be more distressing and potentially a sign of something serious.
Pattern baldness is a common cause of hair loss as people grow older. At least half of men over the age of 50 will lose some of their hair just through the ageing process, according to the British Association of Dermatologists.
Women may lose their hair as they grow older, too.
Other, more concerning causes of hair loss include stress, cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, weight loss or an iron deficiency.
Most hair loss is temporary, however, and can be expected to grow back.
Specific medical conditions which cause the hair to fall out include alopecia, a disorder of the immune system; an underactive or overactive thyroid; the skin condition lichen planus or Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer.
People should visit their doctor if their hair starts to fall out in lumps, falls out suddenly, if their scalp itches or burns, and if hair loss is causing them severe stress.
She admitted: ‘That was the worst for me as it was visible to friends and we were out of lock down around the summertime and I was socialising more which made me more conscious of it.’
She also revealed she nearly bought a wig to hide her hair loss.
Some hair specialists told her the only way her hair would recover would be to try hormone therapy or steroid injections.
Camilla said she was ‘at the end of her tether’ when she came across the JSHealth hair and energy vitamins – and figured she should give them a go.
After five months, she found her hair was growing back in and she was left with very few bald patches.
She said she was shocked when the hair started growing back because she had been so skeptical after trying so many methods.
Describing the pills as ‘life savers’, she added: ‘It’s so much better and I am feeling incredibly positive about my hair.
‘My hair never looks tidy as regrowth spikes out in all different directions, but I am just so grateful that my hair is growing back and it’s growing back thicker than it was before,’ she said.
She continued: ‘It feels amazing, I’m still on my hair growth journey but the bald patches aren’t visible anymore which is fab.’
JSHealth is an Australian company founded and headed by nutritionist Jess Sepel, who said she was thrilled with Camilla’s results.
‘It pushes me to jump out of bed and keep building a company that serves for the greater good and genuinely has an impact on peoples lives.’ she said.
Her comments come as experts continue to investigate the links between hair loss and Covid-19.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Covid-induced hair loss is due to telogen effluvium (TE) – a shedding condition caused by a disturbance in the hair growth cycle.
TE results in a high percentage of anagen follicles (follicles which are actively growing hair), going into their resting phase prematurely across the scalp
TE lasts somewhere between six to nine months before hair returns to its normal thickness and appearance, it says.
‘It happens when more hairs than normal enter the shedding (telogen) phase of the hair growth lifecycle at the same time,’ AAD says.
JSHealth founder and renowned nutritionist Jess Sepel told Daily Mail Australia stories like Camilla’s help her get out of bed in the morning and are the reason she started her company
What is telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which a person sheds more hair than normal, and it can be triggered by childbirth.
It is normal for someone to be in the process of shedding about 10 per cent of the hair on their head at one time, because it grows continuously to make sure the total number of hairs remains constant.
Telogen effluvium occurs when that number rises to 30 or more per cent, and the person is losing noticeable amounts of hair.
The condition occurs because of a disturbance to the normal hair growing cycle. It can be triggered by childbirth, trauma or illness, stress, extreme weight loss, medications, or a skin condition affecting the scalp.
Telogen effluvium usually clears itself up within three to six months, but it may take longer for hair to regrow to its normal length.
Source: British Association of Dermatologists
‘A fever or illness can force more hairs into the shedding phase. Most people see noticeable hair shedding two to three months after having a fever or illness.
Specialists at the Belgravia Centre in London have also reported an uplift in cases of telogen effluvium since the start of the pandemic.
Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of male patients and over a third of women (38 per cent) diagnosed with TE at the Belgravia Centre reported having experienced Covid-19 related symptoms, they found last year.
‘It’s quite common for TE-related hair loss to present around three months after a period of severe trauma, illness or stress, which fits with our findings,’ said Rali Bozhinova, superintdent trichologist at the Belgravia Centre.
‘The spike in diagnoses shows the extent of stress that the virus places on the body, not only causing temporary TE, but also potentially exacerbating other hair loss conditions which can have long lasting effects if left untreated.’
Another expert suggested Covid-19 could be linked to alopecia areata, which leads to coin-sized bald patches on the scalp.
Alopecia areata can result in total hair loss, called alopecia universalis, and it can prevent hair from growing back.
In these cases, Covid-19 may trigger an auto-immune response, where the body attacks its own hair follicles, switching them off, according to trichologist Iain Sallis, who wasn’t involved in the Chinese study.
‘Covid, as many other febrile illnesses, have the ability to confuse our auto-immune system,’ Sallis told MailOnline.
‘Any type of shock be it, physical, emotional or psychological can cause alopecia, so it can most certainly be classed as a possible trigger.’
There is currently a joint effort by dermatologists called SECURE-DERM to look at the effects of Covid on hair loss on a global scale.
Covid sufferers report losing large clumps of hair after infection – as experts warn hair loss could be a symptom of the virus
Research released exclusively to the Mail earlier this year revealed that, since the lockdowns began, in March 2020, one fifth of people believe the condition of their hair has got worse, with 36 per cent of those saying their hair is thinner, and 40 per cent saying it looked duller.
The figures come from research carried out by hair supplement Viviscal, but its findings are echoed by hair experts across the nation.
‘When we reopened after the first lockdown, we definitely saw a lot more of our clients complaining of weakened hair or hair loss,’ says Richard Ward, who is renowned for being the Duchess of Cambridge’s stylist.
Part of this may be down to a change in habits. ‘People are washing their hair less often in lockdown and, if you’re prone to an itchy scalp or dandruff, that can make it worse,’ says dermatologist Dr Martin Wade, of the London Skin & Hair Clinic.
Demonstration: Alyssa Milano has been among those to show off her shocking amount of hair loss as a result of having COVID-19 after experiencing acute symptoms in April 2020
Oh no: She showed off all the strands of lost hair in her hands
And as trichologist Anabel Kingsley, of Philip Kingsley Clinics, points out, our diet may have changed, too. ‘When you’re stressed, you may not eat as well as you normally would. Nutritional deficiencies often show up first in the form of hair shedding.’
If you’ve actually had Covid, then hair problems could be even more apparent.
There’s a condition called acute telogen effluvium that is well documented,’ says trichologist Iain Sallis (hairmedic.co.uk). ‘This is when an illness, a car accident or some other form of shock temporarily stops the hair creation process.
‘Making hair requires a lot of energy, and when the body is under stress it decides it can’t waste energy on this and diverts it to fighting the illness.’
Abby Read, pictured, from Totnes, Devon developed Covid-19 last March, but instead of suffering any of the common symptoms such as a cough, fever or fatigue, she lost large clumps of hair
Hair often sits in a resting phase for two to three months before it sheds, so the thinning isn’t noticed until then, when new hair doesn’t replace that naturally lost.
Sallis adds: ‘With coronavirus, I’ve been seeing that even patients who had very mild symptoms are experiencing hair loss. For every one degree celsius increase in temperature [they’ve suffered with a fever], they’re experiencing around a ten per cent reduction in hair.’
Actress Alyssa Milano has been among those to reveal her shocking amount of hair loss as a result of having COVID-19 after experiencing acute symptoms in April last year.
The mother of two, pictured, lost her hair for more than six months before it returned
The 47-year-old actress took to Twitter in August to share a video of herself brushing her locks after a shower which resulted in her pulling out several strands.
Meanwhile Abby Read, 45, of Totnes, Devon, believed she caught Covid-19 in March 2020 when routine testing for the illness were not widely available.
Ms Read said her two daughters had classic Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing, fatigue and breathlessness.
Initially, she thought she had avoided the virus because she did not develop any of the widely publicised symptoms.
However, a short while later, Ms Read said one of her daughters noticed that she had been losing large clumps of hair.
She said: ‘My hair just fell out in big clumps. It was awful and very, very upsetting. It’s rarely discussed and I felt unattractive and embarrassed.
‘I have long hair which I couldn’t wear down anymore. I had to style my hair in way to distinguish the bald patches.
‘I had not heard of it being a Covid symptom, but when I did some research online I read a report that said 22 per cent of women who have Covid suffer hair loss.
Grace Dudley, 30, revealed how she is now wearing a wig after suffering extensive hair loss triggered by coronavirus. Pictured, Grace before her hair loss (left) and in her wig (right)
‘Mine was not alopecia totalis which causes complete hair loss. It was confined to two spots.’
After seeking advice from her doctor, Abby was prescribed topical corticosteroids, an ointment rubbed into where the hair loss had occurred.
It wasn’t until six months later that her hair started to slowly grow back again.
Mother-of-one Grace Dudley, 30, from Romford, Essex, was also affected, and said she began to notice her locks falling out in large clumps, seemingly without reason, more than a month after she was discharged from hospital after beating Covid-19.
More than a month after she was discharged, Grace, a make-up artist, began to notice her hair falling out in large clumps, seemingly without reason. Pictured: bald patches on Grace’s head
The make-up artist spent almost a fortnight in hospital after contracting it from her father, who later died of multiple organ failure caused by the virus.
Grace, who has since shaved her head and raised £1,400 for the Little Princess Trust via a GoFundMe page, told FEMAIL in August that her hair fell out every time she brushed it, causing her to lose around 55 per cent every day.
She was told by an expert that her hair loss was linked to Covid-19. According to Grace, the trichologist said the severe hair loss had been triggered because the body had been so close to death that it had began to ‘shut down’ follicles on her head in a bid to conserve energy for essential functions.
Other Covid-19 survivors have taken to Twitter to share their experiences of hair loss weeks and even months after the initial symptoms of Covid-19 have passed.