A look at what some patients are reporting
By now, you already know to be on the lookout for the most common Covid-19 symptoms. Things like a new or worsening cough, fever, chills and fatigue are all signs that you might have caught the virus that has killed over a million people worldwide.
We’re also learning about the potential for lingering health effects for confirmed cases lasting months after they’ve “recovered” from the disease. Complications like difficulty breathing, weakness, and muscle soreness have all afflicted thousands of Covid-patients — making an already troubling situation even more troubling.
There have also been some reports of Covid patients losing their hair months after the virus has left their body. Hair loss of any kind can be stressful for both men and women alike. Even more so when hair loss is dramatic, as is the case with Covid-related hair loss. Here’s a look at what you should know about this type of hair loss and what you can do about it.
Dermatologists have determined that Covid-related hair loss is likely associated with a type of hair loss (alopecia) known as telogen effluvium. Unlike male-pattern baldness, which usually occurs gradually, telogen effluvium is often characterized by a dramatic and noticeable loss of hair. It is usually brought on by a serious stress shock to the system, like surgery, physical or psychological trauma, serious infection or extreme weight loss or gain.
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Are you at risk?
Just because someone has contracted the novel coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean they will experience hair loss. The World Health Organization says that roughly 4 out of 5 (80%) of all Covid cases are mild or asymptomatic. Since the virus saves its most harmful effects for only 20% of all cases, it’s generally this segment of the population that might experience Covid-related hair loss. And even then, so far, it appears as though only a tiny percentage of Covid cases develop telogen effluvium.
Conversely, just because someone’s never had Covid doesn’t mean they won’t develop this type of hair loss. Genetics tend to play a big role in any kind of hair loss, and telogen effluvium is no exception.
How to treat it
The good news is this kind of hair loss is almost always temporary and should grow back with time. It has no visible effect on the scalp (no rashes or scars) and isn’t physically uncomfortable. The best thing you can do for your hair is follow your normal hair care routine and give it time. You could also take some steps to de-stress and reduce pandemic-related anxiety by making sure you’re getting regular exercise, (virtually), connecting with friends and family, and taking a break from the news every once in a while.
Take care of yourself
In an already incredibly stressful time, worrying about hair loss is definitely something we could all live without. If you think you’re experiencing hair loss as a result of Covid, do your best to stay healthy and happy, and give your hair some time to recover and regrow.