You’ve had COVID-19 and recovered. Big relief. Then it happens. About three months later, while washing your hair in the shower, clumps of it are in your hand, stuck to your back or clogging the drain. Maybe your brush is full of it, much more than normal, or your hair litters your bathroom floor or your pillow when you wake up in the morning in disturbing amounts. This is COVID-Related Hair Loss. Significant hair loss affects 20% of all COVID patients who have been hospitalized. Among those who didn’t have acute symptoms, the percentage may be even higher. It’s troubling, but don’t panic, Russak Dermatology Clinic can help.
Phases of Hair Growth
Let’s start with an explanation of the different phases of hair growth and how COVID affects this process. Hair goes through three stages: 1.) anagen, when hair follicles grow hair, which is 80 to 90 percent of the time; 2.) catagen, a short, transitional phase when hair follicles stop growing; and 3.) telogen, the period during which hair “rests” on the body before falling out. At any given moment, 10 percent to 15 percent of your hair is in the telogen phase.
Some hair loss – about 100 hairs per day – is natural and normal. When that increases to 300 or more hairs per day, something is not right. Post-COVID, if your hair thins perceptibly, you’ve liked developed a condition called telogen effluvium.
Cause of Hair Loss
Telogen effluvium is not specific to COVID. It can happen several months after any time the body undergoes stress, such as after a high fever, the flu or another serious illness, so it’s no surprise that it happens to COVID patients. It’s also common during pregnancy and after giving birth, and certain medications can trigger it. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, the incidence of telogen effluvium has increased by 400 percent.
The hair loss associated with telogen effluvium occurs primarily on your head and excessive shedding can continue for many months.
Scientists have yet to link COVID-Related Hair Loss directly to the COVID virus. Most experts agree that the stress related to contracting COVID, anxiety over the disease, job loss, feelings of isolation and depression, and changes in lifestyle due to the pandemic are the real culprits.
Curbing Hair Loss
If stress is the cause of COVID-Related Hair Loss, de-stressing is the obvious antidote, but that’s easier said than done. Exercise, fresh air, getting eight hours of sleep per night and eating foods that are high in protein, iron, vitamins B12, C and D, zinc and folic acid help. You can also take care better care of your hair by avoiding harsh hair products, excessively hot styling methods and styles that pull on your hair like braids, ponytails and tight buns. The good news is that in most cases of telogen effluvium, hair growth and loss return to normal, but it takes a long time, up to a year.
If wearing a hat or a wig to cover up hair loss isn’t your style, there is another safe, nonsurgical way to stimulate hair growth, Dr. Russak’s signature Hair Restoration Therapy. The treatment combines Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, Exosome Stem Cell injections, diffused micro-needling and topical and oral supplements. It’s a unique, clinically-proven approach that is more proactive because it delivers these regenerative ingredients into the scalp, awakening hair follicles and stimulating hair growth.
What is PRP Therapy?
Blood platelets contain hundreds of healing proteins called growth factors, which are known for their regenerative qualities. Normally, platelets make up about 10 percent of our blood’s cellular components. In PRP Therapy, that percentage is flipped to 90 percent. When platelet-rich plasma is infused into the scalp, it encourages hair growth at an accelerated rate.
During a Hair Restoration Therapy treatment, first a phlebotomist draws a small sample of your blood, which is spun in a centrifuge designed to concentrate platelets. In essence, your red and white blood cells are separated from your platelets and plasma (clear-gold fluid), creating PRP. The concentration of platelets in PRP, and thus the concentration of growth factors, can be up to ten times greater than in normal blood.
Once your PRP is isolated, your provider injects and microneedles the PRP into the scalp. Microneedling ensures the valuable growth factors in your PRP penetrate directly into your hair follicles, and injections allow the PRP to get even deeper into the skin. The growth factors in the PRP then stimulate stem cells around your hair follicles into an active growth phase.
In addition, non-platelet components of your blood plasma are present in lower amounts and contain nutrients, vitamins, hormones, electrolytes and proteins that are essential to hair health. As a result, hair grows back and at a faster rate than if left only to Mother Nature.
What’s an Exosome Booster?
Exosomes are a new breakthrough in regenerative hair therapy that triggers healing, cell stimulation and regeneration. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles, or small bubbles, released from stem cells. They contain genetic signals that stimulate cells, in this case healthy hair follicles.
The exosomes released by regenerative cells such as stem cells are potent drivers of repair, regeneration and healing. When hair loss occurs, exosomes signal the follicles to heal themselves which stimulates new hair growth. Exosomes contain bioactive molecules that play a crucial role in cell-to-cell communications and are vital in all cellular regenerative processes. When they are infused directly into the scalp, the result is intensive hair rejuvenation, especially when combined with PRP Therapy.
Reversing Other Types of Hair Loss
Thinning hair can result from many different factors in addition to COVID-Related Hair Loss. PRP Therapy enhanced with an Exosome Booster delivers a comprehensive approach to treating hair loss in many situations. Any person who has experienced “miniaturization”, or hair thinning, is an ideal candidate for this proven hair restoration therapy. It’s customized for each patient with the goal of reactivating his or her hair follicles.
The recommended protocol consists of four sessions spaced one month apart, with maintenance treatments every four to six months after that to keep hair follicles stimulated and to maintain hair growth. These in-clinic treatments are augmented by oral supplements and Russak Dermalogy’s proprietary topical spray, called Hair Fortifying RX.
Hair Fortifying RX is a concentrated blend of vitamins and hair regrowth stimulants, including 10% minoxidil, which reduces inflammation around the follicle and stimulates hair regrowth on it’s own. When combined with Hair Restoration Therapy, the result is fuller, denser hair!
Note: In addition to excessive hair loss, if you suffer from a rash, itchy scalp or burning, your hair loss is likely due to something besides telogen effluvium. You should see a board-certified dermatologist, such as Dr. Russak, as soon as possible.
For more information, go to www.russakdermatology.com.