We are currently in the middle of the pandemic due to the emergence of the coronavirus. Can COVID-19 cause hair loss or not is currently very trending across social media after Alyssa Milano’s tweet went viral.
While there are many symptoms reported of the coronavirus, hair loss is not recognized by the WHO as a side effect of COVID-19. You will see why in the article.
Is it hair loss or hair fall?
Before finding out whether coronavirus is responsible for hair loss or not. We need to make sure it’s hair loss. It’s a common misconception that hair loss is simply hair falling out.
We normally experience hair fall in our daily life. A person typically loses 50-100 hairs per day. But sometimes new hairs don’t replace the hairs which we lose. This causes the thinning of hair and bald patches. This condition is hair loss.
That essentially is the difference between hair loss and normal hair fall.
What does the research say about COVID-19 and hair loss?
There is a possibility that coronavirus is linked to hair loss. But in science, correlation does not imply causation.
A study was conducted regarding COVID-19 symptoms in a small group of 63 participants. The participants included in study 14 reported the symptoms of hair loss. The reported average hair loss duration is 58,6 days. Four people out of 14 recovered from the hair loss. The other 9 reported the symptoms of hair loss at the time of the interview with participants.
A study was conducted on 175 people who were hospitalized for coronavirus treatment. Researchers observed that almost 67% of patients had a problem with alopecia – scientific designation of hair loss condition. It is important to note that there was no control group in this study.
How could COVID-19 cause hair loss?
We are going to have a discussion on the possible reasons behind hair loss which COVID-19 cause.
The stress of COVID-19
The fear of coronavirus has taken a place in the heart of people. Even those who have not been affected by coronavirus experience hair loss. COVID-19 is inducing emotional stress in people. Emotional stress can cause more hair shedding than normal hair fall.
The hair shedding begins after 2 to 3 months after the onset of stress. Unfortunately, seeing your hair falling out in big chunks also contribute to stressing you and your body out.
In short, it can be said that COVID-19 does not directly cause hair loss. It’s the stress coming from the quarantine, and other implications of having the virus that caused the hair loss. Stress-related hair loss is often referred to as Telogen Effluvium.
The hair loss that is seen in coronavirus is similar to that Telogen Effluvium cause. People having TE reports about the issue of hair loss. Specifically, hair falls out in clumps while brushing and showering.
Most people having TE experience hair loss after 2-3 months (see the similar pattern?). This affects less than half part of the scalp for 6-9 months. After that period the hair automatically regrows if the underlying conditions are alleviated
Another potential trigger of TE is an acute illness following fever. People who get infected by COVID-19 experience fever as one of its symptoms. TE has also been observed in many people due to the stress of being quarantine.
How does Telogen Effluvium work?
There are multiple phases of hair growth. The hairs up to 90% at any time are growing. 5% remain in the resting phase. The hairs up to 10% are shedding. Whenever you experience events of major stress and shock, 50% of your hair comes at the phase of shedding.
TE occurs when a stressor seizes the growth of a large amount of hair. Following that, the hair enters the resting phase. In the resting or telogen, hair waits for 2-3 months to shed from the scalp for regrowth. This is the reason due to which hair loss happens for a long time after the triggering of an event. It could be an illness or a highly stressful period.
How to fight against COVID-19 hair loss?
Now we know whether COVID-19 causes hair loss or not. It is also clear that what is the reason behind hair loss due to Covid. There is now a need to understand how to combat hair loss.
After all, how can we let any disease damage our beauty? So, let’s discuss how to fight against hair loss due to COVID-19.
Good news! TE is only temporary hair loss. It will naturally cure itself after you get rid of its root cause – stress.
However, you need to wait until the time comes for the regrowth of the hair. The returning time to growth usually takes 6-9 months for growth. This fact is reported by the American Academy of Dermatology. While there are solutions out there to speed up this process, such as collagen products for hair growth.
At the time when hair falls out the body starts to reset. This happens only when you experience no more triggering changes. But in COVID-19 due to its longer period, the hair regrowth takes more time.
However long-term stressors can turn the normal TE into the chronic TE. So, you need to make sure that you are consuming the right diet which supports hair growth. That diet means a balanced diet that contains nutrients necessary for a healthy hair.
When is it time to see a doctor?
If you’ve had a lot of hair fall out for a long time. Despite the efforts, it is not getting better. You should see a board-certified dermatologist to identify the reason behind the hair loss. Because hair loss is not only associated with the COVID-19. Other potential causes of hair loss include hormonal imbalances, dandruff, smoking, and even menopause.
Hair loss is a major issue which everyone is facing. The connection between COVID-19 and hair loss is still under discussion. However, some researches have proved its association. The majority of research points to stress as the culprit of the hair loss instead of the virus itself.
We recommend talking to your doctor to see whether your hair loss is caused by the virus as there are many other causes. If your hair loss is not temporary, there might be alternative options such as PRP, hair transplant, or topical treatments.
Is COVID-19 linked to hair loss? (n.d.). Retrieved from Beauty Fashion Blog: https://www.beautynfashionblog.com/is-covid-19-linked-to-hair-loss/
Can COVID-19 cause hair loss? (n.d.). Retrieved from Health and Beauty: https://www.beautynfashionblog.com/is-covid-19-linked-to-hair-loss/
Miyazato, Y. (2020). Prolonged and Late-Onset Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019. Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
Ramos, P. M., Ianhez, M., & Miot, H. A. (2020). Alopecia and grey hair are associated with COVID-19 Severity. Experimental Dermatology, 1250-1252.
Sealdi-Schulman, J. (2020). What We Know About Hair Loss and COVID-19. Healthline.
Wabier, C. G. (2020). Androgenetic alopecia present in the majority of patients hospitalized with COVID-19: The “Gabrin sign”. Public Health Emergency Collection, 680–682.