The Common Issue of Hair Loss in COVID-19 Patients

COVID-19 has been terrifying for people who experienced its symptoms early in the pandemic. For example, many became very sick and were confused about what had happened to them at first. Many still do not know about this virus and its adverse side effects. However, it is essential to note that we understand more today than we did after the outbreak began. One of those things included is COVID-19 hair loss – a rather severe side effect, in some cases – something many who got infected with this virus commonly experienced as a lingering issue.

Experts are exploring more about this phenomenon as they continue their research into the condition and trying to find out whether there may be other causes. However, the silver lining is this condition can be reversible in many cases – they can begin growing their hair back soon after. Nevertheless, it is exceptionally distressful for those who face this situation. After all, patients tend to lose clumps in large amounts even after recovery, as per the American Academy of Dermatology. While the general public can find it shocking, doctors aren’t as surprised. The University of Utah’s report suggests that hair loss in COVID patients can be attributable to stress. 

If you talk about stress, everyone is tired of what has been happening for more than two years. Some are so overdone with this that they don’t want to discuss the pandemic in the social get-together fearing it might cause arguments. For clarity, one can refer to MyBioSource’s recent COVID poll that shows that one in three people will avoid such discussions not to get into fights.

As per the hair loss, the findings suggest that 10% of hairs remain in the resting zone (telogen) and 90% in growth, the state referred to as anagen. When the cycle of telogen completes, hair shedding occurs. Due to COVID, anagen hairs may get replaced by telogen hairs at a higher rate. According to the University’s health officials, telogen effluvium, or the state of hair loss, generally disappears after 3-6 months, and COVID victims can have it end within three months or so. University of Utah Health’s Dr. Powell Perng informs that chronic cases might also not lose entire hair as telogen hairs constitute only about 50% of total hair on the scalp.

The connection between COVID and hair loss

Brown University’s Helena Kuhn explains that SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is not the real culprit. Instead, it is the stress that your body goes through while combating the viral infection, and they refer to this condition as telogen effluvium, which happens under a sudden stressor. Usually, 5-10% of hairs remain in the resting stage, but telogen effluvium can increase it to over 30%. And COVID infection can easily cause this because people experience physical and mental stress. In 2020, a New York City locality reported an almost 400% rise in telogen effluvium cases during the initial months of the outbreak.

The pattern of hair loss in COVID patients

You may notice the onset of this symptom with hair falling all over your bathroom flooring or getting stuck in the hairbrush. With a few weeks more, thinning may become prominent. However, the timing of this condition may not coincide with the infection. It might appear after three months. On average, a person sheds nearly 100 strands daily, but telogen effluvium pushes this count much higher. So, you can expect that the problem of hair loss may occur when you are moving back into normal life after complete recovery. 

Things to consider in the event of hair loss led by COVID

You can focus on minimizing hair fall risks. The health experts recommend people to be patient when they suffer from this issue because it doesn’t cause balding. At the same time, it can be a good idea to embrace some healthy hair habits. For example, stay away from styling your hair with a heating appliance. Avoiding procedures like straightening and coloring can also be wise. Doctors also suggest that tight hairstyles stress your hair, so don’t follow them either. 

Sometimes, nutritional deficiencies can also aggravate the whole situation. So it will be better to get it investigated. Typically, vitamin or mineral deprivation affects hair health. The most common ingredients can be iron and vitamin D in this regard. You can consult your doctor to understand how to supplement your diet with them. However, the most critical thing of all can still be stress control. Exercise and meditate to deal with COVID-led stress. Going to a certified dermatologist is necessary if you don’t see any improvement after six months. You may be facing a chronic condition. 

Hair loss already bothers people a lot as it hits their confidence and makes them cut down their socialization activities. And when it supposedly results from COVID-induced stress, its impact can be more than double on your mind. But don’t let it burden you. As mentioned, most of these cases can reverse.