Article by Pasadena Health, July 2021
From frazzled nerves to extra pounds, the pandemic’s physical side effects can be pervasive, even if you never tested positive for COVID-19.
Perhaps it’s all that time spent self-scrutinizing on Zoom, or boredom-inspired scalp inspections, but a common complaint lately is hair loss, according to Paul J. McAndrews, MD, USC Keck School of Medicine clinical professor of dermatology, whose Pasadena and Beverly Hills practices specialize in hair restoration. He’s seen a spike in cases over the past year, not due to the usual cause of permanent thinning (androgenic alopecia, aka male- or female-pattern hair loss) but from a temporary condition.
“The pandemic can cause psychological trauma, which can lead to telogen effluvium, where you’re shedding more than the normal 100 to 150 strands a day,” explains McAndrews, who lists wider parts and slimmer ponytails as telltale signs of extra fallout. Yes, losing up to 150 hairs a day is normal. And if you haven’t washed your hair for three days, that means you may see 450 casualties when you do shampoo.
For those infected with COVID, one-third will experience hair loss, estimates Harklinikken (Danish for “hair clinic”) Founder Lars Skjoeth, who has helped European and Middle Eastern royalty—and most recently a very vocal Ricki Lake—reverse thinning since the ’90s.
“It’s important to note that many people have been severely impacted by the pandemic on a personal and emotional level prior to getting the virus,” Skjoth explains. “So when individuals do get sick, they may be hit harder than if things had been normal up to that point.” The more severe the symptoms, the more likely telogen effluvium will kick in, as it often does following traumatic events such as severe illness, childbirth, or even medication changes.
But why are we noticing more hair loss now, when the surge is months behind us? McAndrews explains that telogen effluvium shedding starts a few months after the trauma, and although it typically lasts only a few months, the longer your hair, the more time it takes for new hairs to catch up in length.
Thankfully, Harklinikken’s Extract hair-growth treatment ($88) can be enriched with new, nutrient-dense compounds that target stress-related deficiencies to speed things up. Since each bottle of Extract is custom blended to a client’s particular needs, Skjoth’s nimble team can tweak the formula in response to the times. Users have reported noticeable results as quickly as one to two months. Skjoeth will be opening a new Beverly Hills Harklinikken flagship on Burton Way in June. Hopefully more of us will start the road to full recovery this summer as well (in person Harklinikken consultations cost $175; virtual appointments are $49).