Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?

It is not unusual to come across news of a new symptom of COVID-19 as we continue to battle the pandemic. With it being a novel virus, a new disease, unfortunately we are still learning about how it acts and the toll that it takes on the human body.

Increasingly there have been reports of men and women experiencing hair loss after a bout with the illness. Many of these patients have come out as “long-haulers” or people that still experience symptoms weeks and months after first catching the virus.

Stories have emerged of women showering and having clumps of hair come out into their hands as they shampoo. The hair loss can happen even a month or two after the first symptoms emerge. Understandably many of these people noticing hair loss have concerns about whether their thyroid is out of whack or if there is something sinister occurring; they don’t immediately tie it to COVID.

What is causing the hair loss? While scientists are researching all the side effects of the virus some speculate that the hair loss is a stress reaction the body has due to the illness. When someone is severely ill or experiences a tremendous stress, they may experience Telogen Effluvian. This is a temporary form of hair loss caused by an emotional or physical stress. The fact that patients are experiencing hair loss a few months after being ill lines up with this theory as the body usually exhibits its physical response to stress 3-5 months after the stressful experience.

COVID-19 can cause severe illness. Shortness of breath, high fevers, stress on your heart, weight loss and high anxiety would all trigger a hair loss event such as telogen effluvian. You may notice hair loss that presents in a diffuse way across the scalp, rather than in certain localized spots like the crown or temples.

Hair growth has three phases, a growing phase, a resting phase and a release phase. In most people, 85% of their hair is in the growth phase at any given time. When someone is experiencing telogen effluvian, the stressful event has triggered up to 50% of the hair follicles into the release phase.

Another form of hair loss that may be triggered during a stressful event such as contracting COVID-19 is Alopecia Areata. This is an autoimmune condition where hair loss presents in circular localized patches. Autoimmune disorders can be triggered by stress, whether emotional or physical.

Both forms of hair loss, telogen effluvian and alopecia areata can be reversable. Once the body balances and heals the hair loss improves. Losing your hair can be an extremely traumatic experience. There are things you can do to help the body achieve balance to promote hair re-growth.

Since stress on the body, both physical and emotional, can trigger a hair loss event, finding ways to manage stress can help set you on the path to hair re-growth. Yoga, meditation and regular exercise all have been proved to reduce stress and improve mood. Healthy hair needs plenty of amino acids found in foods. Eating a balanced diet is important. Be sure to include plenty of iron, B vitamins, Vitamin D and protein. Sleep is when your tissues regenerate. Hair is our fastest growing tissue so getting 8-10 hours of sleep per night is crucial for healthy hair growth.

Hair loss can affect your self-image and your confidence but there are ways Images International can help. We can encourage new growth using our trichology protocol, balancing and improving the scalp. A clean and healthy scalp sets the stage for regrowth. We can also provide hair enhancements to fill in volume as you are waiting for your hair to re-grow. There is no need to have anxiety about your appearance as you recover from COVID-19. Images International is ready to partner with you so you can love your hair again. We offer a free consultation if you’d like to learn more, contact us for an appointment.

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