Many people are surprised when they hear that dermatologists are trained to diagnose and treat hair problems, but this is an important and common part of dermatology practice. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown us a few challenges and made us re-think how we can approach and treat various hair issues. Here are a few that come to mind.

African American Hair Care
Bad hair days are far more common in lockdown. For those with African hair, seeing a stylist for hair grooming and styling is part-and-parcel of keeping hair looking and feeling good. While hairdressers in Melbourne have remained open, it may not be easy to simple walk in for an appointment on-demand. Lockdown laws have also affected our daily routines, so stay-at-home hair care has become more important.

In a recent online Skin of Colour meeting in the USA, a few tips for those with African hair were shared:

1. Consider having a family member help style your hair for you
2. If you are in a city in the world that is still in lockdown that prevents you from seeing your stylist, consider following the lead from some celebrities. Many have ‘gone natural’ with a buzz cut. If you are confident with the style, it may be time to give it a go! Going natural is the best possible way to take care of your hair in the long-term.
3. A common condition in those of African heritage (which has a genetic basis in some cases) is called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (commonly known as CCCA). This condition requires treatment every few months with corticosteroid injections. Strong corticosteroid lotions  together with antibiotics in low dose could be used if your dermatologist is not seeing patients face-to-face.

Laser hair removal in lockdown
If lockdown and social distancing has placed a wedge between you and your laser hair removal treatment plan, you will have to re-think how you get rid of the fuzz between treatments. The best way to remove unwanted hair is with a single-blade razor. Direct the shaving down the leg. Go with the grain of the hair. Using multiple blade razors (which do give a closer shave) and shaving in an upward direction, increase the risk of ingrown hairs and infection around the hair follicle (folliculitis).

To get the facts on laser hair removal, click here

Hair loss medications and COVID-19 infection
Reports have shown that severe COVID-19 infection is less common in females. In fact, death rates in Iran, Italy and Spain reveal almost double mortality (death) in males versus females.

The novel coronavirus penetrates cells via the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE-2) protein receptor. The expression of ACE-2 is decreased by estrogen and increased by testosterone. So, females, because of the lower testosterone, will have lower amounts of the virus penetrating into cells of the lungs, heart, kidneys and eyes.

So, does this mean that medications that decrease androgens (male hormones like testosterone) help protect against COVID-19? Unfortunately, the jury is still out on this and a lot more work and research is needed to better understand this relationship. Medications used for hair loss for men and women are “anti-androgens.” Medications like spironolactone, finasteride and dutasteride are examples of anti-androgen medications. It will be interesting to learn about the outcomes of those with COVID-19 in those who are on anti-androgen therapy or have high levels of estrogen.

While COVID-19 might mean bad hair days, sporting a new hairstyle and making do with a razor during lockdown, but some of the answers we are searching for about the novel coronavirus (n-CoVid) may actually come from dermatology patients with hair issues! It is indeed the hairy side of COVID-19!

The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention. Please see your healthcare provider for more information on suitability of products, treatments or procedures.often