COVID-19 Stress Linked to Increased Hair Loss in Multiethnic Populations

The epidemic of COVID-19 has been a trying moment for everyone. Nonetheless, racially diversified neighbourhoods have fared worse than others. Not only have preexisting disadvantages put people of colour at a higher risk of contracting the disease and dying from it, but the pandemic's economic effects have also resulted in considerable job losses and income reductions.

New research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrates that the tremendous stress of the past nine months (and counting) has caused a significantly increased rate of hair loss in racially diverse communities. A study of two hospitals in New York City's low-income, diverse populations with high COVID-19 death rates revealed a 400% increase in a hair-shedding disorder among some persons of colour.

Hair Loss Epidemic in Diverse Communities

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology on December 10, five physicians examined the prevalence of telogen effluvium, a reversible condition that causes hair loss following a stressful event, in the dermatology departments of Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan and Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn. The two "safety net" hospitals serve racially diverse communities with some of the highest COVID-19 death rates in New York City.

The researchers detected a 400% rise in telogen effluvium instances between March 1 and August 31 compared to the pre-pandemic period of September 1, 2019 through February 28, 2020. The analysis revealed a large increase in telogen effluvium cases between July and August, around three to four months after New York City initiated lockdowns in response to the first major COVID-19 outbreak.

"Telogen effluvium does not typically manifest at the onset of a stressor. According to Allison Britt Kimmins, MD, MPH, a board-certified dermatologist, telogen effluvium typically occurs three to four months following a stressful event. The increase in telogen effluvium was particularly prominent among Hispanic and Latino people2, who had been hospitalised at rates more than four times higher than white people. During the pandemic, the researchers also discovered five occurrences of the disease among men. In the previous year, they had not recorded any male cases of telogen effluvium.

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