covid-19 hair loss
Written by
Morgan German MSc.
Medically approved by
Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.

Our research has found that there is a strong link between the novel coronavirus and hair shedding.

Read more:

Summary

  • 22% of COVID-19 patients demonstrated hair loss (The Lancet)

  • 71% were diagnosed with clinically significant hair loss out of 41 male patients admitted in Spain due to COVID-19.

  • In a study done by Survivor Corps, more than one-third reported hair loss relating to COVID-19.

  • Androgenetic alopecia has been proposed as a cutaneous marker for elevated severity risk from COVID-19.

22% of covid-19 patients demonstrated hair loss

Source: The Lancet

Is COVID-19 linked to hair fall?

Many people have complained of hair loss after recovering from a severe Covid-19 infection. However, the extent of association of hair loss with Covid-19 Infection and the mechanism behind it is yet to be discovered.

Actress Alyssa Milano posted a video on Twitter slowing large strands from her head after brushing her wet hair.

In May 2020, a study was conducted on 175 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 Infection. Results showed that 67% of the participants suffered from androgenic alopecia.

A similar study was conducted in July 2020 to compare balding patterns in 2000 hospitalized men. Out of all the participants, 390 men were hospitalized with Covid-19 while 1910 were hospitalized without Covid-19 infection. Results showed a higher prevalence of baldness among patients positive for Covid-19.

A November 2020 population survey was conducted on approximately 43,000 people to study the link between hair loss, co-morbidities, and Covid-19 outcome. The results demonstrated an independent association of hair loss with severe Covid-19 infection.

According to The New York Times and a recent study reported in The Lancet, 22% of the patients hospitalized in China with Covid-19 Infection experienced hair loss six months after recovery.

According to Dr. Esther Freeman, the one in charge of the Dermatology COVID-19 Registry, having 1,000 cases from 38 countries, reported a rising number of people reporting hair loss after recovering from Covid-19 Infection.

Despite several reported cases, there is still minimal research to support the association of hair loss and Covid-19 Infection. Therefore, further investigation is required to clarify this issue.

Diana Barrett surveyed her Survivor Corps Facebook group. She revealed that more than one-third of the 1700 members complained of hair loss after recovering from Covid-19 infection.

survivor corps covid-19 long haul symptom research hair loss

Source: Survivor Corps

Stress might be the cause

None of the chemical or biological responses within the human body explains the direct link between Covid-19 Infection and hair loss. Therefore, doctors blame emotional and physical stress that accompanies Covid-19 Infection, the reason behind reversible hair loss called telogen effluvium.

Dr. Susan Massick is a renowned dermatologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explains:

In conditions of shock, the body locks down all but the essential functions. Since hair growth is not an essential function, hair starts to shed.

Hogan says:

Scalp hair life cycle has three phases. Almost 90% of hair at any time is in the growth phase, 5% are in a resting phase, and approximately 10% are in the shedding phase. In times of major stress events or shock, up to 50% of scalp hair can jump ahead to the shedding phase.

Dr. Aurora Pop-Vicas, an infectious disease specialist at UW Health in Madison, Wisc, says:

Stress-related hair loss called Telogen Effluvium can occur more often than we think.

According to Dr. Greg Vanichcakhorn, the medical director of the COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn:

Covid-19, related hair fall should be correctly called hair shedding instead of hair fall. He explains that in times of stress or shock, hair cells enter a dormant phase. This can happen even months after the original insult.
Therefore, hair shedding after the Covid-19 infection is due to this insult to the body. However, the delayed presentation makes it tricky to determine whether the hair fall is directly related to Covid-19 or not.

Reference and further reading

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mieczkowska, K., Deutsch, A., Borok, J., Guzman, A. K., Fruchter, R., Patel, P., ... & Halverstam, C. P. (2020). Telogen effluvium: a sequela of COVID‐19. International journal of dermatology.