New Delhi: Covid-19 survivors are facing the problem of hair shedding and various skin problems. Coronavirus disease is an ongoing global pandemic with common symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue dyspnea and hyposmia. However, it has come into light that some cases are also reportedly getting diagnosed with excessive hair shedding and skin-related issues.
To get more thoughts on this issue, CitySpidey spoke to Dr Gulhima Arora, Senior Consultant Dermatologist, Mehektagul Dermaclinic, New Delhi, she said, “Hairfall or excessive hair shedding is a pandemic in a pandemic! Also known as Telogen effluvium, this is the most common complaint that I receive from patients who have recovered from Covid-19. This usually happens 8-12 weeks after the illness.”
Dr Gulhima cited several causes associated with this issue. Any major illness diverts the nutrition to more important functional organs of the body as the body is in a catabolic state and needs more energy. Thus the hair, which is not a functionally important appendage of the skin, gets stripped off of its nutrients and gets neglected. It thus goes into the shedding phase of the growth cycle faster than before from the growing phase. As it takes around 12 weeks for the new hair to grow from a follicle, pushing out the old hair, excessive shedding is experienced at this time.
The stress associated with the illness, whether one has suffered from it or has had a family member who has suffered, releases a hormone which is called cortisol, which in turn releases pro inflammatory mediators which can cause increased shedding. Nutrition deficiency which gets exacerbated with any illness can also play a role.
Apart from hairfall, the vaccine has likewise led to an increase in the incidences of people getting allergies. “Allergies, acute urticaria, have a higher chance of affecting people who suffered from COVID-19. It was a presenting symptom of many patients, who found out they are COVID positive on getting tested on suspicion due to this. The vaccine has also played its role in the same. Certain inflammatory skin conditions like pityriasis rosea were also the presenting symptom in many of my patients. Psoriasis, another inflammatory condition, seen to be worsening in patients with COVID. Stress could be contributory to this, some patients showed redness of toes due to a COVID-induced vasculopathy,” says Dr Gulhima.
She further added that with preventive equipment such as masks, a new term - 'maskne' was born, which is due to the occurrence of acne due to wearing masks. Occlusion, excessive build-up of bacteria due to retained moisture under the mask and wearing of makeup may clog the pores further. While the most needed PPE kits come with their share of frictional and moisture-related dermatoses and increased incidence of fungal infections.
Dr Sandeep Arora, Professor and Head, Department of Dermatology, Army College of Medical Sciences said, “The incidence of skin disorders during active covid infection is not very common. Uncommonly patients present with hives (urticaria), vasculitis and vasculopathy which are immunologically mediated diseases of the skin blood vessels result in rashes and blue toes. It is a post-COVID illness that we have observed results in sudden hair loss called ‘Telogen Effluvium’ which occurs in as many as 40 per cent of our patients 2-3 months after recovery from this illness. None of the COVID vaccines induced skin changes are serious. Their incidence appears just as much as any other vaccine. They very rarely worsen already existing skin disorders or cause rashes. Patients already on treatment for skin diseases must consult their dermatologist before vaccination and in case of any skin problem with COVID and post-vaccination.”