Hair loss is a common side effect of COVID-19 and the trauma of the pandemic itself. If you’ve noticed your hair is getting thinner during this pandemic or even falling out, you’re not alone.
For many people, the general upending of life as we knew it has shown up in visible hair loss – bald spots, receding hairlines, clogged shower drains. Hair loss can also be a side effect of COVID-19 itself. This has been “The Year America’s Hair Fell Out.” That is the title of an article in The Atlantic written by Amanda Mull;
“I experienced two distinct waves of hair loss. And when I experienced the second one, it was one of those sorts of, like, come to Jesus moments where it’s like, OK, I can no longer pretend that this is not a thing that is happening to me, and it’s time to figure out why.
The type of hair loss I was experiencing in the past year and a half is something called telogen effluvium, which is an acute temporary, in almost all cases, the situation in which some sort of physical or emotional shock to your system creates a severe sudden bout of hair loss.
The types of things that can cause telogen effluvium on an emotional level are the types of things that have been really common in the pandemic – grief, sudden job loss, anything that sort of shocks your system and sends it into emergency mode, really”
- Dozens of people have posted about hair loss after they recovered from COVID-19 but still had lingering effects of the disease.
- Doctors believe that the physical and emotional stress accompanying a case of COVID-19 may lead to a reversible hair loss condition called telogen effluvium.
- The condition is known to occur a few months after a stressful event such as emotional distress, major surgery, or high fever.
Actress Alyssa Milano took to social media earlier this month to reveal a lesser-known effect of COVID-19: hair loss.
On a video posted on Twitter, the “Charmed” star showed large clumps of strands coming out of her brush after running it through her wet hair.
“This is my hair loss from COVID-19. Wear a damn mask,” said Milano, who recently tested positive for coronavirus antibodies after having symptoms of the disease in April.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not include hair loss on its list of COVID-19 symptoms, doctors say there’s compelling evidence that it can be a long-term effect of the illness. Here’s what we know so far about COVID-19 and hair loss.
Hair loss among ‘long-haulers.’
Milano isn’t the only COVID-19 survivor who is now experiencing hair loss. There are dozens of posts about hair loss on the Survivor Corps Facebook group among people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 and still have lingering effects months later, also known as “long-haulers.”
A survey created by the group’s founder, Diana Berrent, revealed that more than a third of the 1,700 respondents say they’ve had hair loss after enduring COVID-19.
Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, said she started seeing an uptick in patients with hair loss about six weeks after the initial stay-at-home orders were implemented in New York mid-March.
“There’s been at least a 25 percent increase in people coming in with hair loss, and that’s from a place of already being busy dealing with hair disorders,” said Engelman. “It’s not yet documented on major medical sites as a symptom, but patients show me their positive test results.”
Stress may be to blame
There’s no evidence yet that the novel coronavirus itself directly causes hair loss. Instead, doctors believe that the physical and emotional stress that accompanies a case of COVID-19 can lead to a reversible hair loss condition called telogen effluvium.
The condition is known to occur a few months after a stressful event Such as emotional distress, major surgery, or high fever. It shifts more of a person’s hair to the telogen, or resting phase, of the hair growth cycle, which ultimately leads to losing hair.
“When there’s a shock to the system, the body goes into lockdown mode and only focuses on essential functions. Hair growth is not as essential as other functions, so you end up with hair shedding,” explained Dr. Susan Massick, a dermatologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
They may also look at what’s been going on in a patient’s life over the last few months to nail down the stressful event that triggered the condition, such as a hospitalization from COVID-19.
Coping with hair loss
What can we do in response? Support your body as holistically as possible to reduce stress, boost immunity, and encourage new hair growth! Here are some of our potent formulas that can work in your favor: