COVID and Hair Loss: What’s the Connection?

After almost a year of COVID being a prevalent topic worldwide, researchers continue to learn more about the virus and how it is affecting people. Though there are consistent symptoms with the coronavirus, an individual’s experience while sick and the side-effects after can differ. COVID and hair loss after being ill has been increasingly documented, but what connects the two conditions? Doctors believe a separate condition known as telogen effluvium is the true cause of hair loss after COVID.

Why is Telogen Effluvium to Blame?

The second most common hair loss condition that dermatologists diagnose, telogen effluvium, is a disruption in the normal hair growth cycle. Hair will normally grow in three phases: anagen (the active phase), catagen (the transitional phase), and telogen (the resting phase). At any given time, approximately 90% of all follicles are in the anagen phase and growing hair. They will normally remain in this state for two to six years before moving into the catagen phase. During the catagen phase, hair growth will stop and become what is known as a “club hair” and then enter the telogen phase. It’s during the telogen phase that hair loss occurs.

During telogen effluvium, follicles are forced from the anagen phase into the telogen phase due to some sort of shock to a person’s system. Conditions that can lead to telogen effluvium include:

  • Acute or Chronic Illness – especially illnesses where a fever is present
  • Accidents
  • Certain Medications
  • Surgery
  • Stress
  • Childbirth

Telogen Effluvium, COVID, and Hair Loss

Knowing that a fever is one of the symptoms of the coronavirus, it is understandable that COVID and hair loss are linked to telogen effluvium. Our bodies use fevers as a way to fight off infections, but this mechanism to protect us can also be what forces follicles to enter the telogen phase prematurely. Additionally, COVID has been shown to cause stress and strain many individuals, leading to telogen effluvium.

COVID, or any cause for telogen effluvium, doesn’t cause your hair to fall out immediately. In most COVID and hair loss cases, it has been reported that the loss of hair happens two to three months after the event that triggers telogen effluvium.

How Do I Know if I Have Telogen Effluvium?

Hair shedding is a natural occurrence. On average, a person will lose 50 to 150 hairs per day. In most cases, individuals won’t even recognize how much hair they lose in a given day. The increase in hair loss from telogen effluvium will often be the first sign that someone will notice and can often be concerning. If you notice that you seem to be losing more hair than normal and feel concerned, contact your doctor. A physician will be able to determine if the amount of hair loss is abnormal and related to another condition.

Is the Hair Loss Permanent?

While there isn’t a specific treatment, telogen effluvium is thankfully a self-correcting condition once the trigger event has been addressed or removed. This means that hair growth will begin again once COVID and hair loss as a result occurs. In time, hair that fell out from the illness or stress should naturally grow back. It will take time for the hair to grow, but there are things you can do to support your hair growth:

  • Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet that is balanced with fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
  • Use recommended specialty vitamins and supplements that are formulated and clinically documented to stimulate hair growth.
  • Handle your hair with care by avoiding over-combing, brushing, and over-tight buns. This will help prevent any new or remaining strands from breaking, and decrease the stress on your scalp.

COVID and hair loss, as a result, may not be permanent, but other conditions that cause hair loss are. At West LA Hair, Dr. Melamed specializes in treating men and women with any degree of hair loss. Through his years of experience and the most advanced methods available, he will find the right plan to get your hair to a healthy and strong state. From PRP and Laser Therapy to ARTAS Hair Restoration and specialty vitamins and supplements, Dr. Melamed can determine the best method for your hair needs.

Schedule a consultation with West LA Hair today to find the best option for you!