Stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons says stress has led to hair loss during the Covid pandemic

Comedian and quiz presenter Zoe Lyons, who stars in BBC2 series Lighting, shares her experience of patchy hair loss after her hair fell out during the pandemic

Stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons
Stand-up comedian Zoe Lyons noticed her hair falling out in 2020

Zoe Lyons is reminiscing about filming the first series of her quick BBC2 quiz show, Lightning. “I’m pretty excited to be a game show host in my shiny suit, having a make-up artist paint over my bald patches,” she quips.

While she quickly made jokes about her patchy hair lossA condition thought to affect around eight million women in the UK, the 50-year-old comedian has struggled.

She started to notice her hair falling out not long after she started pandemic in 2020.

“A lot of dermatologists and doctors will tell you that hair loss is an autoimmune disease and counter the idea that hair loss is related to stress, but,” says Mock the Week. I know that, for me,” said Mock the Week.

“I mean, nobody has two glory years, but I had a lot going on at that point that was very painful and stressful. The pandemic has meant that I’m not working and staying home all the time making my family life quite difficult, so my wife and Sindy have been separated for a while – although I’m happy to say we have back together again.

Zoe Lyons hosts BBC2 Lightning quiz show



“I think locking the door put a big magnifying glass to life. If there are any problems there from before, they will come into focus when you are forced to separate from each other. So it was a perfect storm.”

The warning sign is a small, round patch of hair missing from the back of her head – something Zoe has experienced since she was a child.

“The first time I lost my hair was when I was 11 years old. My parents are divorced, which is quite sad. I remember my mom combing my hair one day and saying ‘oh wow’ – it was like having a clump of hair in the brush. “

It is not something that resolves itself quickly.

“My hair turned gray quite a bit over the past few years and I had large bald patches,” she recalls.

“They tend to be on the nape of the neck, which means they are easy to hide, but I also have one on the front of my head. I look as if I’ve had a frontal lobectomy.

“When I have long hair, we usually use a comb to tie it across to cover the bald patches, although it is very wind dependent.”

That means Zoe, who lives in Hove, East Sussex, knew what to expect when the first few started shedding two years ago.

“I can say that this time will be very important,” she said. “It started with a small patch on the top of my head, then on the nape of my neck, and then it went on for a year.

“By the time it fully regrows, I will basically lose all of my hair, just not all at once. It moved across my scalp like a slow, dense form of eclipse, making a brave attempt to grow back in one place while the other sheds. ”

Even though she’s been more prepared, Zoe still finds this latest episode very upsetting.

Zoe Lyons (top right) with the heads of Mock The Week


© Neil Genower)

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever been through and I find it really distressing,” she said. “I know it’s just hair, but it’s unbelievable how much you have and how long it takes to come out.

“So every day you are collecting dust clumps on the floor, on pillows, from the shower. That, for me, was the worst part. Now that it’s stable, I’m fine, but while it’s coming out, it’s been really tough. ”

Most of her friends and colleagues were supportive, but Zoe received some nasty comments.

“People say, ‘have you tried not to get stressed?’ and I said, ‘I’m holding my own hair, it’s hard!’

“You can’t help but stress because when you look in the mirror, you don’t see yourself anymore. I’ve never been terribly fanatical, but I really like my hair.”

Unfortunately, there is no simple cure.

Zoe Lyons doing a stand-up routine on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow


BBC Worldwide)

Zoe said: “I went through some shocking treatments. “Steroid injections only work for small patches, so because my scalp is what I describe as ‘open plan’, I tried steroid pills for about two months.

“The doctor said, ‘they’re going to give you a big buzz’ and I thought, ‘I’m absolutely in love with the London club scene in the 1990s, I know what buzz is.

“But I clearly don’t because I could have repainted your house twice – while crying – in the space of half an hour. They sent me a loop.

“I am hyperactive, they destroy my stomach, there are nights when I cannot sleep. It is absolutely horrible and has no positive effect on my hair.”

She then tried topical immunotherapy.

‘They use chemicals to make your scalp flake off to confuse your immune system with attacking’ eczema ‘ instead of hair follicles. So once a week, while my wife and I were separated, I had to come home to have her throw acid on my head! It’s really annoying. After a month, I decided I would rather go bald.

“My other options are immunosuppressants, but they are not great to start with during a pandemic. [because they reduce your ability to fight infections]. Also, you have to pay privately and they cost around £1,000 a month for about 10 months. There’s no guarantee that once you stop using them, your hair won’t jump ship anymore. ”

Instead, Zoe has focused on changing her lifestyle in hopes of staving off further episodes.

She said: “I exercise a lot and my stress has decreased significantly. “My important thing this year is to maintain a sense of balance, to eat in moderation. I also take supplements because there is a lot of research on the link between gut health and autoimmune diseases.

“I’m seeing very little growth at the moment, so this is just one case of mine, just give it a go and create a healthy environment for the hair to grow in.”

– Lightning begins March 14 on BBC2 at 18:30

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