THURSDAY, July 30, 2020 — Patients recovering from COVID-19 may be susceptible to losing their hair, USA Today reported Wednesday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t list hair loss as a consequence of COVID-19, but more than 27% of 1,100 people who responded to a Survivor Corps Facebook poll said they lost hair.
Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, has seen an influx of COVID-19 patients who lost their hair.
“Patients have literally come in with bags of hair looking like a full head of hair was in the bag,” she told USA Today. “They all have similar stories. That they were extremely sick with high fevers and have never been that sick in their entire lives.”
Hair loss may not be due to the virus, but rather by shock to the body of having a high fever and other symptoms.
Hair loss can occur after surgery, major trauma, psychological stress, high, infection, or other illness. It can also result from weight loss, change in diet, hormonal changes, or iron deficiency, according to the Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, told USA Today that when the body experiences a shock to the system it forces hair to go from growing to resting to shedding.
That’s why COVID-19 patients lose hair a couple of weeks to months after they recover from the infection, she said.
Patients’ can temporally lose as much as 50% of their hair. Shedding decreases during the following six months and returns to normal.
It’s not known why some patients lose hair and others don’t. It may be genetic, Khetarpal told USA Today.
Although over-the-counter remedies might make hair grow faster, patients should instead eat a well-balanced diet and take vitamins that help hair grow, she said.
Patients with hair loss will also benefit by manage stress because stress and make the problem worse, Khetarpal said.
“Hair is our identity, it’s a huge part of our culture and the shedding itself can cause a lot of stress,” she said. “That can contribute to the problem and make things worse.”
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