Hair loss after COVID: Here’s what you need to know
Posted at 5:24 AM Wednesday October 5, 2022
by AnaClare Barras
Our understanding of COVID is changing all the time. Although some things about the virus remain shrouded in mystery, one of the things we know best is the seemingly growing list of long-term side effects after contracting COVID-19.
Most are aware of a loss of sense of taste and smell that some claim never returns to its original state, but hair loss has also been reported as a post-COVID symptom.
“All my co-workers have seen it with their clients,” said Kelly Perry, hairstylist at Rain Salon and Day Spa in Monroe. “It’s something we’ve been seeing for a while. It was the worst during the first two strains of COVID. One of my co-workers said her client had lost 75 percent of her hair.”
“One client has lost between 45 and 50 percent of her hair,” said Ashley Hidalgo, hairstylist at K & Co Salon. “It took several months to get back up properly.”
In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 58.3 percent of respondents who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 reported hair loss as a symptom that lasted for more than four weeks, making hair loss the most common long-term hair loss. A symptom of covid.
Dr Melissa Rasberry, MD, family medicine physician at Imperial Health, said that while hair loss may be one of the most worrying side effects of COVID, it is usually only temporary.
“Significant hair loss can happen after any kind of physiological stress,” Rasberry said. “So, we sometimes see like women after having a baby, they will lose hair. We see it after illness, or anything that can make a physiological change in their bodies.”
Thus, it is not the COVID virus that causes hair loss, but the stress that causes it. A phenomenon known as telogen effluvium is what causes hair loss after COVID, a condition in which hair falls out in response to stress factors.
According to Rasberry, hair goes through three different stages. At any given time, about 90 percent of our hair is in the growth phase, and the remaining 10 percent is in the resting phase. At the end of this phase, the hair is shed from its follicles and is gradually replaced by new hair, and the cycle continues.
“After any kind of physiological stress, we see a large portion of the normal 90 percent of hair in the growth phase transition into the shedding phase prematurely,” Rasberry said. “If you think about it, on average, you lose about 1 percent of your hair every time, and when you go from something like that to about 30 percent or more, that’s a noticeable difference.”
The shedding can begin soon after the injury, but usually after six to eight weeks of physiological stress. Raspberry said hair growth will return after the disease is resolved, but because hair growth occurs so slowly, hair growth takes some time to replace, sometimes six to 12 months.
As worrisome as it may be, Rasberry said the hair loss associated with COVID is temporary, and the hair will return.
“Compensating for any kind of deficiencies and getting rid of any kind of triggers that might precipitate physiological stress…is important to allow hair to grow back and stop further loss,” she said.
“I’ve heard that taking collagen has helped some women regrow their hair,” Berry added. “Taking zinc and biotin supplements helps with hair growth, but they need to speak with their doctor to make sure they are getting the correct dose.”
“A good haircut and patience go a long way,” Hidalgo said.
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