Hair loss due to COVID-19?
A relatively large number of people suddenly experience hair loss after contracting COVID-19. Dermatologist Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) explains why COVID-19 can cause hair loss, how many people are affected and what can be done about it!
“Hair loss and hair loss can be the result of a number of diseases, including COVID-19,” reports the expert. Unlike other hair loss diseases, however, no symptoms such as redness, scaling, itching or burning on the scalp are associated with hair loss in COVID-19.
Hair grows and falls
First of all, it should be noted that at any time, about 90% of our hair is growing, about 5% is at rest and 5% is falling out. "But if a major stressful event, illness or shock occurs, up to 50% of the hair can be pushed into the shedding phase," says Dr. Khetarpal.
COVID-19 can cause hair loss
Getting sick with COVID-19 also means stress on the body. And so a study has already shown that a "significant percentage" of people suffering from COVID-19 develop hair loss, reports the expert. According to another study, hair loss can be observed in up to 60% of those affected.
This excessive hair loss associated with COVID-19 is usually detectable one to two months after illness. "Whether it's COVID-19, the flu, or strep throat - any type of illness or fever can lead to changes in the hair," Dr. Khetarpal points out.
This is because when the body is focused on fighting off a virus or bacteria, it doesn't put as much energy into things like hair growth. In addition, according to the expert, other consequences of COVID-19 can also lead to hair loss and hair loss, such as:Weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, emotional stress, insomnia, certain medications.
Additionally, the stress of living during the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to hair loss without actually being sick, according to Dr. Khetarpal.
Last but not least, research has shown a link between COVID-19 vaccines and alopecia areata (patterned hair loss) in a very small group of vaccinated people. However, it cannot be ruled out that the people examined already have a higher risk of alopecia.
How long will the hair loss last?
According to research to date, hair loss resolves within two to six months after vaccination against COVID-19, Khetarpal said. However, hair has been missing for a long time and can trigger additional emotional stress which, in the worst case, can lead to further hair loss.
"When people lose their hair for the first time, it can be very distressing and upsetting," says Dr. Khetarpal.
Fortunately, hair loss after COVID-19 or as a result of stress and other causes is usually reversible. "Fallen hair is replaced by new healthy hair", explains the dermatologist.
“People may feel like their hair is thinning, but over time, provided the hair loss is not due to medication or nutrient deficiency, hair density will return to normal” , explains Dr. Khetarpal.
Measure against hair loss
However, people who suffer from hair loss may be worried and want to know what they can do to reverse the hair loss and regain normal hair growth. She generally recommends that those affected first manage their stress, says Dr. Khétarpal.
Of course, there are stressors that we cannot control, but there are a number of things that can be done to try to reduce stress. Various relaxation methods are available here and exercise, a balanced diet with plenty of protein and enough water can also help.
If the hair loss is very severe or if the hair no longer grows back, other measures are also possible, such as taking minoxidil. This is applied to the scalp as a topical solution or mousse and is believed to help regrow hair. Here, however, the potential side effects must be weighed.
Taking certain vitamin supplements can also help increase levels of important nutrients that promote hair regrowth. One of those vitamins is biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin, the expert said.
If someone lacks vitamin D or iron, it can also lead to hair loss, Dr. Khetarpal explains further. Therefore, she recommends taking a multivitamin to ensure you get enough of the nutrients you need.
Last but not least, other options that can be used for severe hair loss after COVID-19 include a procedure in which platelets are taken from blood plasma and injected into the scalp to promote hair regeneration.
Medically clarify the stages of treatment
The expert recommends that anyone suffering from hair loss after COVID-19 and wanting to take action against it discuss their options with a doctor. With her patients, she first starts with the simplest things and then it is possible to initiate other additional therapeutic steps.
“We make sure you don't miss any of the nutrients or vitamins. Then we could recommend Minoxidil if you are a candidate and go from there. We'll start with these simple things and then we can add more,” says Dr. Khétarpal. (fp)
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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Sources:Kai-Che Wei, Chao-Chun Yang: Hair Loss and COVID-19; in: Dermatologica Sinica (published December 29, 2021), dermsinica.orgZeinab Aryanian, Kamran Balighi, Parvaneh Hatami, Zeinab Mohseni Afshar, Nessa Aghazadeh Mohandesi: The role of SARS-CoV-2 infection and its vaccines in various types hair loss; In: Dermatologic Therapy (published 3/9/2022), onlinelibrary.wiley.comMargaret E Scollan, Alyssa Breneman, Neha Kinariwalla, Yssra Soliman, Soundos Youssef, Lindsey A Bordone, Stephanie M Gallitano: Alopecia areata after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination ; in: JAAD Case Reports (published 12/14/2021), jaadcasereports.orgCleveland Clinic: How COVID-19 Might Be Causing Your Hair Loss (published 08/05/2022), health.clevelandclinic.org
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.