Hair Loss Reports Grow Among Covid-19 ‘Long Haul’ Survivors
Hundreds of Covid-19 survivors are reporting hair loss, sometimes dramatic, often weeks after recovering. Experts say the outcome is not a symptom, but a result of physical or emotional stress. And, they say, it’s not surprising.
“We are seeing patients who had Covid-19 two to three months ago and are now experiencing hair loss,” says Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Other people who have not had Covid-19 are experiencing hair loss due to the stress of the pandemic, Khetarpal says.
Actress Alyssa Milano, who wrote she was “acutely sick” with Covid-19 in April, showed her Covid-related hair loss on Twitter. Milano ran a brush through her hair, revealing gobs of her long hair. “Wear a damn mask,” she said.
Among 1,567 people who report “long haul” Covid-19 effects, 423 report hair loss, according to a new survey led by Natalie Lambert, PhD, from Indiana University.
The average human sheds 50 to 100 hairs a day. Excess shedding, called telogen effluvium, can be caused by both physical or psychological trauma, from infections to surgery or even diet changes and menopause, Khetarpal explains. It typically happens two to three months after the stressful event.
“This is why we’re seeing these patients now, several weeks after Covid-19 symptoms resolve,” she says. “Telogen effluvium isn’t a symptom of Covid-19 as much as it is a consequence of the infection.”
It’s not clear exactly how Covid-related hair loss might play out, but Khetarpal says telogen effluvium can last several months and typically resolves on its own. “I think it’s really important to reassure and counsel the patient that this will get better,” she says. “This hair loss will improve, but it does take time to get back to normal.”