Researchers are beginning to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting patients’ mental health and triggering changes in the skin, hair and nails.
Two new research studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examine how the COVID-19 pandemic triggered hair shedding in minority communities and how the pandemic has increased symptoms for people who experience body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), including repetitive hair pulling (trichotillomania), nail biting, and skin picking (excoriation disorder).
- In the study, A Surge in the Incidence of Telogen Effluvium in Minority Predominant Communities Heavily Impacted by COVID-19, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shoshana Marmon, MD, PhD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor, department of dermatology, Mount Sinai, New York, found a 400% increase in cases of hair shedding in people of color approximately three to four months after the shelter-in-place directive in New York City.
Dr. Marmon is available to provide additional insights on this research and discuss temporary hair loss, what people should know, and what they can do about it.
- In a second study, Cross-sectional Survey Examining Skin Picking and Hair Pulling Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic, board-certified dermatologist Ronda Farah, MD, FAAD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School collaborated with psychiatrist Alik Widge, MD, PhD, assistant professor, department of psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School, to understand how people who experience body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) were affected by the pandemic. They found a majority (67.2%), reported increased BFRB symptoms during COVID-19, and of those receiving active treatment for their BFRBs, nearly 40% experienced an interruption in therapy due to clinic closures and other distancing.
Dr. Farah and Dr. Widge are available to discuss this research and how feelings of stress and isolation can exacerbate certain conditions like skin picking and nail biting.
The American Academy of Dermatology offers an online COVID-19 Resource Center that provides more information about how people can continue to care for their skin, hair, and nails.