StyleSpeak delves into the distressing effect of the COVID-19 virus on the skin and hair with inputs from aesthetic physician Dr. Disha Jaggi

COVID has wreaked havoc in every sphere of life – be it the physical health or mental well-being. A lot of people have suffered its aftermath in unimaginable ways. The deadly virus has led to many skin and hair-related issues too.

StyleSpeak discusses the after-effects of COVID on the hair and skin, and ways to bring it back to perfect health with Dr. Disha Jaggi, Aesthetic Physician and HR Surgeon at Dr. Diana’s Hair and Skin Aesthetic Clinic, Lucknow.

Excessive Hairfall

Hair fall is a common occurence for many people, especially during monsoons. Hair fall upto 100 strands a day is considered quite normal, but anything above that can be a cause for concern. People recovering from COVID have complained of extreme hair fall, a phenomenon called ‘telogen effluvium’. It is a non-scarring hair loss due to an abnormal change in follicular cycling.

As per Dr. Disha Jaggi, “In this scenario 40-70% hair follicles go into shedding phase as there is a shock to the system, both emotional and physical. The good news is that this is a temporary phase, and the hair fall does reduce over time. Hair health can be reversed sooner than later with proper nutrition, hair supplements, and increased intake of iron and Vitamin D.”

Dry Scalp

Patients recovering from COVID have also experienced excessive dry scalp and increase in dandruff due to COVID damaging the immune system. Dr. Disha says, “The best way to combat this it is to take vitamins and keep the body hydrated. Ketoconazole-based shampoos are highly recommended in this condition.” She adds, “Besides a dry scalp, patients suffering from COVID might also have dry, chapped skin, lips and dryness around the mouth. For this it is best to use shea butter for the skin and Vitamin E based lip balms”

Skin Shedding

One of the aftermaths of COVID is skin peeling. It begins with a minor rash and can turn into an ugly cycle of skin shedding in the areas where the skin is thin, like the arms and face. In other places where the skin is thick like the soles and palms, the skin might shed twice or thrice after about 2-3 weeks post the infection. The best way to deal with it is to use a good hypogenic body lotion at least twice a day. The skin will reappear slowly but steadily.

Body Pimples

COVID treatment involves taking steroids, which can harm the skin and hair. Steroids increase the hydration level in the body and compromise the immune system. Due to excessive moisture in the body and a weakened immune system, bacteria and fungi grow more easily, causing body acne – pimples on the back, chest, shoulders, and forehead.

People with dandruff problems are more prone to get pimples as the same fungus is responsible for both. This body acne can be quite itchy and might require a course of anti-acne antibiotics. Applying calamine lotion could also calm the skin. The good news is that these pimples vanish within 3-4 weeks.

Mask Acne

Besides the body pimples, an increasing number of people are also complaining of ‘maskne’, a term coined due to the excessive usage of masks during the pandemic. Wearing a mask for long hours makes the skin sweat and lead to fungi and bacterial growth. The N-95 masks seem to have led to more incidence of mask acne. Wearing a soft cotton mask under the N-95 mask is ideal. Soon after removing the mask, wash the face with water and do cold compression to cool down the face.

Dark Circles

The main reason for dark circles is lack of sleep and stress. During the pandemic and for those who have gone through the ugly COVID-19, there has been immense amount of stress accompanied by lack of sleep. In fact, as per the COVID protocols, those suffering from the infection need to quarantine at home, which could lead to a lot of screen time, and make the dark circles worse. The best way to deal with it is to reduce the screen time and give the under-eye a gentle massage for better circulation. Dr. Disha recommends using Vitamin C based serums or ones with Kojic acid and glutathione to lighten the under-eye pigmentation.

COVID-19 is showing its face in new forms, affecting physical health in myriad ways. Though the intensity of the virus has reduced but its effects on hair and skin remain the same. So, it is best to understand the symptoms and their reasons and prepare the body to deal with the virus in the most effective way.