Pandemic stress may be causing people to lose their hair, according to a new study.
By mid-summer, rates of a hair-shedding condition called telogen effluvium (TE) had surged more than 400% in a racially diverse neighborhood in New York City, researchers report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. From November 2019 through February 2020, the incidence of TE cases was 0.4%.
By August, that rate had climbed to 2.3%, they found. "It is unclear if the increase in cases of TE is more closely related to the physiological toll of infection or extreme emotional stress," said coauthor Dr. Shoshana Marmon of Coney Island Hospital.
The increase was due primarily to TE in persons of color, particularly in the Hispanic community, "in line with the disproportionately high mortality rate of this subset of the population due to Covid-19 in NYC," the authors said. TE rates rose in smaller non-white minorities as well, but not among Blacks, who also were severely impacted by Covid-19.
Dr. Adam Friedman of George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, who was not involved in the research, said he too is seeing increases in TE "and the timing makes plenty of sense, as the onset of shedding is typically three months following the traumatic event," which would correspond to the rise of the pandemic.