Thankfully, the worst years of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic seem to be behind us. Rates of infection and death have fallen around the world, and most countries have lifted the draconian legal requirements for us all to stay at home and avoid contact with family and friends.
The virus has left its mark, however. Many have been left to mourn those who didn’t make it through the pandemic. Others who caught the virus and recovered have been left with ‘long-COVID’, a debilitating cocktail of symptoms that leave the sufferer unable to live life to the full.
Hair loss has been a less-reported side effect of COVID-19, but evidence is mounting that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. This article is going to take a closer look at that relationship. Read on to discover more!
What Do We Know About COVID-19 and Hair Loss?
Medical scientists are still learning about the virus, but here’s what we know so far about its link to hair loss. Recent studies have shown that some people experience hair loss after contracting the virus; one study revealed that approximately 10% of people reported hair shedding after catching COVID-19, while a second put the figure at over 66%. That answers the question posed by the title of this article; COVID-19 hair loss is most definitely ‘a thing.’
Why Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?
So, what is it about SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus behind COVID-19) that causes hair shedding? It turns out, in fact, that it’s not the virus itself that’s the problem but the stress it brings. Telogen effluvium is the term used to describe the resting or shedding phase of the hair growth cycle. Stress-induced telogen effluvium happens when a greater percentage of hairs are pushed into the resting phase by some form of trauma. The trauma can be physical or emotional. With COVID-19, there are elements of both.
How Do I Know if My Hair Loss is Linked to COVID-19?
The obvious question you need to ask yourself is, have I had COVID-19? Even though some people can catch the virus and remain asymptomatic, most of us will know if we’ve had it or not. If you have caught it, the dangerous time for hair loss is about two or three months after you’ve recovered. If at that point, you start seeing an unusually large amount of hair on your brush or pillow and notice a marked thinning of the hair on your head, it’s likely that you’re experiencing telogen effluvium brought on by COVID-19.
Will My Hair Grow Back?
The bad news about telogen effluvium is that it may continue for up to six months. That’s a long time to be losing your hair. The good news is that, for most people, this period of hair loss is temporary. At some point, your hair growth cycle will return to normal, and your tresses will regain their former density. The time this takes will vary between individuals. It’s usually about nine months, but it can take as long as two years in extreme cases.
What Can I Do About it?
There is some sort of reassurance in the knowledge that your COVID-19 hair loss will fix itself even if you do nothing at all, but not everyone has that kind of patience. If you want to speed things up a little, cut out the haircare habits that might worsen your situation. Minimising your use of heating styling tools would be good for starters. Avoiding tight hairstyles and chemical processes would also help.
After reviewing your haircare practices, you could check your diet to see if you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your hair requires to make it strong and healthy. Finally, try and find a way of managing the stress in your life. For some, that may take the form of mindfulness or meditation sessions. Other people find it helpful to lose themselves in hobbies, exercise, or other diversions. Whatever works for you, go with it; the last thing you need is additional stress when you’re dealing with a stress-related hair condition.
COVID-19 caught everyone on the hop. Medical scientists were left running to catch up with a new virus they knew little about. Even today, they’re still running; much remains to be understood and explained about the virus. Not everything is known about why COVID-19 causes hair loss or what the long-term consequences will be. Hopefully, this article has helped a bit by shedding some light on the subject.
If you have concerns about hair loss, then the sooner you address them the more effective treatments are likely to be. Vinci Hair Clinic can help. We are one of the world’s leading hair restoration organisations with an unrivalled range of treatments and procedures. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. Get in touch and book your appointment today – we have clinics worldwide!