The detrimental effects of COVID-19 stress on hair and skin

Our current situation with COVID-19 is causing a great deal of mental and emotional stress, even for people who are not infected nor have a friend or family member who is ill. These effects are manifesting as dryness and lackluster appearance of the hair, increased shedding, and increased tenderness and itching of the scalp.  Additionally, many of us are noticing an increase in facial and body breakouts, increase in oiliness and inflammation, or dullness to the appearance of the skin.  

What is causing these changes?

When the body is under physical or mental stress, our levels of cortisol increase, allowing us to be able to fight back or run away.  Through several complex pathways, increased cortisol levels reduce the circulation of oxygen and nutrition to our hair and skin cells, and our bodies produce more oil, in response to activation of the sympathetic nervous system.  The levels of pro-inflammatory cells also rises in our bodies, and our ability to clean up oxidative damage is reduced.  

How can we reverse these changes?

Reversal of these changes involves efforts to reduce our cortisol levels and promote healthy circulation and nutrient delivery to our scalp and skin.  Getting 7-8 hours of sleep nightly, drinking plentiful water, practicing meditation, eating whole foods while reducing processed ones, and getting daily exercise are some of the steps that can be taken to support overall wellness and reduce inflammation.  Incorporation of key natural ingredients--potent adaptogenic antioxidants, like turmeric and ashwagandha, and probiotics found in yogurt--can strengthen the body's defense systems.  Additionally, adherence to a comprehensive skincare regimen that: 1-restores the skin barrier, 2-has strong antioxidant activity, 3-promotes cellular turnover and optimal signaling, is key to correcting oxidative damage from stress and the environment.

At The Rawal Institute for Hair Restoration and Aesthetic Medicine, we can help you kick start your return to balance and wellness, and improve the damaging effects of mental, physical and environmental stress on your hair and skin.  Call us at 608.721.6132 to learn more about our tRi(x) signature skincare line, Nutrafol vitamin supplements, or low-level laser light therapy.

We will help you come out of quarantine...refreshed.


Dr. Shamila Rawal

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