A COVID-19 infection can mean that you have lingering symptoms weeks or months down the line. And, while some of the better-known potential ongoing symptoms may include fatigue, cough, or loss of smell or taste, a lesser-known symptom that may crop up is hair loss.
Of course, hair loss is not a life-threatening or particularly severe situation. But, for many people, their hair provides a sense of identity and may contribute feelings of confidence or looking “put-together” when venturing out into their lives. The rapid shedding of more hair than usual, which may happen in the time period after COVID, could come along with reduced self-esteem and mental distress to the person in recovery and shouldn’t go unaddressed.
Below, we will cover the studies regarding hair loss post-covid, analyze the potential mechanism behind COVID-related hair loss, and provide suggestions to help your hair recover if you find yourself in this situation.
In one smaller-scale study, patients who had been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 infections were followed up with for up to 200 days in order to help identify long-term or late-onset symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. It is noted in the discussion that 24.1% of people available for follow-up reported alopecia (hair loss) approximately 60 days after symptom onset, and that the average duration of this hair loss was 76.4 days.
Another article presents 10 female patients who had verified cases of COVID-19 along with concerns of acute telogen effluvium hair loss in the weeks to months after diagnosis. 6 of these women had a mild disease, while 4 had a more severe progression requiring hospitalization. All women had no previous history of hair loss, and while a few had chronic risk factors for hair loss, these factors are unlikely to explain a rapid hair loss situation like telogen effluvium. All participants reported excessive hair loss including loss of hair along the frontal hairline or hair coming out in clumps.
Telogen Effluvium (TE) is a rapid form of hair loss that can stem from an extremely mentally or physically stressful event. This event may be a severe illness, high fever, childbirth, extreme weight loss, intense mental stressors, or surgery.
What happens to the hair during Telogen Effluvium is that many more hairs than usual shift out of the growing (anagen) phase of hair growth, and go into the telogen (resting) phase of the hair cycle. This cycle is normal, but usually, 85% - 90% of the hairs on your head are in the actively growing anagen phase. During Telogen Effluvium, up to 30% of the hairs on your head may shift into the telogen resting phase. The telogen resting phase lasts for between 2-4 months, and then proceeds to the phase where those hairs are actively shed from the scalp. It is this increased shedding phase that can make someone notice increased hair shedding with Telogen Effluvium. This also gives Telogen Effluvium its tell-tale timeline of experiencing increased shedding about 2-3 months after a traumatic event.
This presentation of acute hair shedding a few months after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms seems to line up with Telogen Effluvium, leading some doctors to think that TE from a traumatic experience may be the underlying situation here, not necessarily the viral infection itself.
As many people can attest to, just because you did not become infected with COVID-19, it does not mean that you had smooth sailing during the pandemic. Many people had significantly increased stress levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic and may have developed stress-related Telogen Effluvium due to the toll on their mental health.
Luckily, Telogen Effluvium is normally a self-limiting situation. You may experience increased hair shedding 2-4 months after a stressful event, but that shedding rarely lasts longer than 6 months. After the initial shedding period, it may take 6-9 months to start seeing your hair recovering and returning to its usual growth.
Of course, hair growth is slow, so patience is key when letting your hair regrow after TE. It is also a good idea to give your hair a little extra TLC during this time. Eat healthily, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and try to keep your stress levels down by incorporating yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, or speaking to friends, family, or a mental health expert regularly.
At Strut Health, we provide online hair loss treatments through our secure telemedicine platform, no matter the cause of your hair concerns.
We provide medications for men and women, in oral and topical formulations. These formulations can contain a mixture of prescription and non-prescription ingredients and be tailored to your current hair, your hair goals, and what has or hasn’t worked for you in the past.
You can have a free online questionnaire-based consultation in 10-15 minutes with our U.S. licensed doctor to see if prescription treatments are a good option for your hair loss concerns.
If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping. If you have any questions or need adjustments during your treatment, our staff and doctors are available for free unlimited follow-ups.