Hair loss is a common side effect of COVID-19 that has left many people worried and anxious. While the worst of the pandemic might be over, physicians, healthcare workers, and researchers are shifting their focus to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, which includes understanding long COVID. Recent studies indicate that patients who were diagnosed with COVID more than four weeks from the time of the study suffered from decreased attention, blurred vision, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, depression, and hair loss.
Alopecia, or hair loss, was found to be the seventh most common symptom following other expected symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, concentration, sleeping problems, and anxiety. In this article, we will discuss the causes of hair loss after COVID and the best remedies to help you regain your luscious locks. So, whether you are experiencing hair shedding or balding patterns, read on to understand why this is happening and what you can do about it.
Is Hair Loss a Symptom Of COVID-19?
Yes, hair loss can be a symptom of COVID-19. It is not a common symptom, but some COVID-19 patients have experienced hair loss or shedding after being infected with the virus. A study comparing the symptoms of COVID-19 patients who were diagnosed with the Omicron variant within 4 weeks of the study (the acute group) to those that were diagnosed greater than 4 weeks from the time of the study (the post-acute group) indicated that the post-acute group suffered from decreased attention, blurred vision, fatigue, sexual dysfunction depression, and hair loss.
One possible reason for hair loss after COVID-19 is related to a common COVID symptom that likely led the patient to get tested in the first place – a fever. It is quite normal for hair loss episodes to be triggered 2-3 months after a high fever. It is also known as telogen effluvium and occurs when more than the normal amount of hair enters the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. The good news is that hair will recover, and the condition does not affect the hair follicle itself.
However, there are other causes of hair loss known as alopecia, which has several forms and does affect the hair follicle. Androgenic alopecia is usually observed as balding patterns and is largely genetic in nature, though hormones can also play a role.
Can Hair Loss Caused By COVID-19 Be Reversed?
Yes, hair loss caused by COVID-19, especially telogen effluvium, can be reversed. Telogen effluvium is a condition where more than the normal amount of hair enters the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, leading to increased shedding. This condition typically occurs a few months after experiencing a high fever or illness, such as COVID-19. However, the good news is that it does not affect the hair follicle itself, meaning that the hair will recover.
To reverse hair loss caused by COVID-19, it is important to address the underlying causes, such as stress, hormonal changes, and vitamin deficiencies. Seek support for your mental well-being if you are feeling stressed or anxious, as stress can exacerbate telogen effluvium. Maintaining proper nutrition levels through your diet can also help boost your immune system and rejuvenate healthy hair growth. If necessary, consider supplementation to ensure you are getting all of the necessary nutrients.
It is also important to avoid additional factors that can contribute to hair loss, such as traction alopecia, which occurs when hair follicles are subjected to constant tensional forces, such as tight ponytails or hair extensions.
What Treatments Are Available For Hair Loss Related To COVID-19?
There are several treatments available for hair loss related to COVID-19. The first step is to address any underlying causes, such as stress and anxiety, by seeking out mental health support. Proper nutrition is also important to boost the immune system and promote healthy hair growth. In some cases, supplementation may be necessary.
For telogen effluvium, the most common form of post-COVID hair loss, the good news is that hair will eventually recover on its own. However, in severe cases, a dermatologist may recommend topical or oral medications to accelerate hair growth.
For alopecia areata, patchy regions of hair loss or full baldness caused by an autoimmune disorder, treatment options include corticosteroid injections, topical immunotherapy, and oral medications such as methotrexate or cyclosporine. In some cases, hair transplant surgery may be recommended.
For androgenic alopecia, balding patterns caused by genetics and hormones, treatments include topical or oral medications such as minoxidil and finasteride, as well as hair transplant surgery.
It is important to consult with a dermatologist to determine the best course of treatment for hair loss related to COVID-19.
What Are The Best Ways To Prevent Hair Loss Due To COVID-19?
If you are experiencing hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19, there are several steps you can take to prevent it, or at least minimize its impact. Firstly, it's important to identify the root cause of your hair loss, as the best treatment options depend on the underlying reason. In most cases, hair loss after COVID-19 is due to telogen effluvium, a condition in which more hair than usual enters the resting phase of the hair growth cycle, leading to increased shedding.
One way to prevent this is to manage any emotional stress, physical stress, or anxiety caused by COVID-19. Seeking support from family relationships, friends, or mental health professionals can help reduce stress levels and minimize the impact of telogen effluvium. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help promote healthy hair growth. If necessary, consider supplements such as biotin, iron, or zinc to support your body's nutritional needs.
It's also important to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your hair while recovering, which can exacerbate hair loss. Avoid tight hairstyles such as tight ponytails or braids, and limit the use of chemicals and heat styling tools. Be gentle when combing or brushing your hair, and avoid excessive pulling or tugging.
Lastly, if you are experiencing hair loss due to COVID-19, speak with your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend additional treatments such as topical medications or hair growth supplements. Remember, hair loss due to COVID-19 is usually temporary and depends on disease severity. If you have a family history of hair loss, consult a doctor or dermatologist.
In conclusion, hair loss is a common symptom experienced by individuals who have had COVID-19. While it can be a source of anxiety and stress, it is important to remember that in most cases, it is temporary and your hair will recover. Identifying the root cause of your hair loss is key to determining the best course of treatment, which may include managing emotional and physical stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding unnecessary stress on the hair. Seeking support from healthcare professionals is also recommended. With the right approach and treatment, it is possible to minimize the impact of hair loss related to COVID-19 and promote healthy hair growth.
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