Khloé Kardashian has opened up about her experiences of post-COVID hair loss.
The reality TV star was diagnosed with coronavirus very early on in the pandemic in March 2020 and has revealed that after recovering, she noticed she was suffering from a significant amount of hair loss.
"When I got COVID, I actually lost a great deal of my hair," Kardashian told Refinery29.
"It happened in chunks, and it was like two or three weeks after I had COVID. I was really bummed - you don't feel good about yourself.
"A couple months after, my doctor, who is a great friend of mine, was like, 'you know what, I've seen so many women, specifically, who have lost a lot of hair and they think it's because of COVID.'"
According to consultant trichologist Anabel Kingsley, Brand President at Philip Kingsley, some people have reported some hair loss after suffering from coronavirus.
"We have indeed seen an increase in the number of our clients suffering with an increase in hair loss due to stress and especially related to COVID-19," she explains.
Kingsley says the types of hair loss most related to stress are: telogen effluvium (excessive daily hair shedding), alopecia areata (hair loss in areas), trichotillomania (hair pulling) and androgenic alopecia (hair thinning).
"It’s important to note that stress will usually not cause hair loss straight away," she explains. "Most hair loss you experience will present itself anywhere from 6-12 weeks after a stressful event, due to the nature of the hair growth cycle."
High fevers (those over 39 degrees C), often a symptom of COVID, can also lead to excessive hair shedding, typically 6-12 weeks later.
"Telogen effluvium is a form of diffuse (widespread, non-concentrated) hair loss on your scalp," Kingsley explains.
"It occurs when the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle is cut short by an internal disturbance in your body. This causes many more hairs than usual to move from their anagen phase into their telogen (shedding) phase, resulting in excessive daily hair fall."
For Kardashian, the shedding was a short-term problem. "It's interesting that a year and a half later, I've seen such a difference in my hair," she says. "The growth, the thickness, the fact that I'm able to bleach it — it's amazing."
Watch: Ashley Graham details 'traumatic' postpartum hair loss.
While Kingsley says post-COVID hair loss should also stop on its own, with hair usually growing back as before, there are some things you can do to keep your hair as shed-free as possible.
Take a break from the blow-dry
Blow-drying, curling tongs and straightening irons can dry out your hair and make your ends brittle and split.
Give yourself a scalp massage
While you are shampooing and conditioning your hair Kingsley suggests giving your scalp a good massage, ideally for at least 60 seconds. "This can be beneficial as scalp health is vital to hair health," she adds.
Consider your diet
According to Kingsley your hair’s health and growth are closely linked to diet. "Being non-essential tissue, your hair is the last part of you to receive nutrients and the first to be withheld from," she explains. "This means if you aren’t eating correctly, your hair will be the first part of you to suffer – and an improvement to diet may be just what your locks need to flourish."
The most important meals of the day for your hair, according to Kingsley are breakfast and lunch.
"Ideally, these should always have approximately a palm sized portion/120g in weight of protein (what your hair is made of), a portion of complex carbohydrates (provide your hair with energy to grow), and healthy fats i.e. Omega 3s (these are good for your scalp) as well as vitamins and minerals."
Try to keep stress in check
Easier said than done, but high stress levels can create a challenging environment for your follicles. "Stress can wreak havoc on our hair growth cycle, and our scalp," explains Kingsley.
One reason for this is that stress can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which can worsen or trigger reduced hair volume (aka female pattern hair loss) if you have a genetic predisposition towards it.
"Stress can also impact how your body absorbs nutrients, which can have a knock-on effect on your strands as hair growth and diet are closely linked," she adds.
To try to lower stress levels Kingsley suggests daily mindfulness and meditation can be helpful.
"If your scalp is particularly bothersome due to stress, treat yourself to a targeted weekly scalp mask, alongside an anti-dandruff shampoo and toner," she says.
"You should also avoid foods that commonly aggravate the scalp, like white wine, champagne and full fat dairy products."
Seek professional help
If you're experiencing hair loss of any kind, it is important to talk to your doctor or book an appointment with an experienced trichologist. "Trichologists can do a deep dive into everything that may be affecting your hair and scalp – from genes, medications, scalp health and general health to stress, diet and styling routine," Kingsley explains.