COVID patients are seeing excessive hair loss after infection
Doctors are identifying a new symptom among some COVID-19 patients that might be startling: hair loss.
Hackensack University Medical Center, which says it treats more COVID-positive patients than any other health system in New Jersey, has issued a report saying many people have experienced excessive hair loss after contracting the virus and recovering from primary symptoms.
Hair loss typically begins several weeks to three months post-infection, said dermatologist Alexis Young in a statement with the published study. And it typically lasts six to nine months, though that can vary among individuals. Hair loss is especially prevalent among long-haul patients.
“I spent six days in the hospital being treated for the virus, and several weeks after I came home, my hair started falling out in clumps,” said Paula Diaz, a former patient at HUMC, who noted in the study that she has always had a thick head of hair. “It was devastating.”
The hair loss occurs “because of overactive inflammation in the body,” Young explained. “The inflammation can cause a shift in the hair cycle.”
The hospital notes that among patients who had been hospitalized with COVID, 22% were dealing with hair loss months after being discharged. Last summer, 79% of the members of the U.K.’s Institute of Trichologists said they had seen cases of “post-COVD hair loss” in their clinics.
Stress is at the heart of the issue—and it’s not just a COVID phenomenon.
“Hair loss after a stressful situation is not unusual,” Young noted. “People can experience hair loss after childbirth or a major surgery, and we’re now seeing the same results after COVID-19 infection in some people.”
Dermatologists in Texas have seen the post-COVID symptom, formally known as telogen effluvium, as well and say the hair growth cycle should reset within a year and a half.
In the meantime, patients who are experiencing post-COVID hair loss can increase their vitamin uptake and manage their stress and diet to try to control the condition.
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