It’s estimated that most people lose around 100 strands of hair per day, and you’re probably used to finding them dotted around your house, or in your brush as you follow your usual haircare habits, without giving them a second thought. But if you’ve noticed that your hair loss felt more significant than usual during lockdown, you’re certainly not alone.
There are a number of common causes for hair loss, including genetics, illness, iron deficiencies and lifestyle choices such as smoking, but one of the key ones, which many of us have felt skyrocketing over these turbulent last few months, is stress.
Why has my hair loss been worse during lockdown?
‘Everyone goes through a hair loss cycle which ends in losing some hair – around 100 strands per day,’ confirms Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor. ‘There are three stages in this process: the anlagen or growth stage, the catagen stage, where hair begins to get weaker, and the telogen stage, where the hair falls out.’
‘The stress hormone, cortisol, makes the hair that is already grown move into the telogen part of the cycle much more quickly. Lockdown and the uncertainty that came with being stuck in the house will have caused a lot of stress on many people which is most likely the main cause of any shedding or hair loss.’
‘Some stress sufferers also develop the habit of playing with their hair, or even pulling it out completely, as a coping mechanism. This is called trichotillomania and this will remove hair or weaken it as well. Plus, stress can cause problems with appetite, and if you aren’t consuming enough vitamins and minerals your hair will become weak and fall out more readily.’
‘Those who smoke regularly may also have increased their daily amount whilst in lockdown due to boredom or stress, this may in turn have increased shedding and may be the main cause of any considerable hair loss,’ she adds.
And as well as the stress of uncertainty, financial pressures and grief associated with the coronavirus pandemic, we also saw dramatic changes to our day-to-day lives, including how we style our hair. ‘Whilst in lockdown many people may have become lazy with their hair routine, putting it in a bun most days which can also cause tension on the scalp and follicles,’ Dr Giuseppe notes – another contributing factor that could be doing your hair some harm.
What can I do to remedy my lockdown hair loss?
It’s likely come as no surprise that Dr Giuseppe recommends quitting smoking for myriad health reasons in addition to its impact on your hair, and giving your hair a break from that high bun or ponytail may offer some relief too. If you’re still keen to wear your hair up, look to softer options like silk scrunchies rather than tight elastic bands.
‘Reducing the stress in your life is perhaps easier said than done, but it is something to look into more thoroughly, with expert help, if this is an issue,’ Dr Giuseppe continues.
‘Before seeking any treatment for hair loss, it is incredibly important to seek medical advice from your doctor beforehand. They will not only be able to provide information on hair loss treatments to ascertain which treatment is most suitable for you, but can also offer practical advice for managing stress and anxiety, which may be attributed to your hair loss.’