The Link Between Covid-19 and Hair Loss

The Cause of Telogen Effluvium

Covid-19 patients may be left with long-term side-effects such as severe hair shedding.

Covid-19 has been widely reported as being a short-term illness with those infected either remaining asymptomatic or experiencing strong respiratory symptoms for up to two weeks. However, a proportion of Covid patients have suffered more severe effects lasting for months, which has radically changed their quality of life. In fact, the Covid Symptom Study app reveals that ten percent of those diagnosed with the condition still experience symptoms up to three months later. These range from fatigue and shortness of breath, to more unusual side-effects such as significant hair loss.

What Is Telogen Effluvium?

The Belgravia Centre has noted an unusual surge in telogen effluvium cases since the coronavirus hit the UK. Wondering what telogen effluvium is? It relates to the rate of growth and loss of your hair. We are constantly shedding and replenishing the hair on our head and you might expect someone to be losing around 10% of their hair. However, the constant growth prevents this loss from being obvious. In telogen effluvium, the numbers shift so that someone suffering from this hair loss condition might be losing at least 30% of their hair at any one time. This makes it impossible for the hair growth to catch up with this rate of shedding. However, any noticeable bald patches can be covered with handmade wigs or hair toppers to ease your distress at the situation.

Why Does Telogen Effluvium Occur?

Telogen effluvium often occurs as a response to a physical disturbance in the hair growth cycle. Typical causes include childbirth, severe stress, trauma, illness or extreme weight loss. Some medications which upset the balance of hormones can also play a part in this condition. It is common for telogen effluvium to occur as a delayed response to any of these events.

Correlation With Covid-19

In the study carried out by the Belgravia Centre, it was revealed that 64% of male patients diagnosed with telogen effluvium throughout June and July had experienced Covid-like symptoms in March. The same was true for 38% of women who also reported hair loss symptoms. This would fit the typical timeline for TE, where shedding usually starts three to four months after a physical illness. It is well-known that the coronavirus places an incredible stress on the body, which is why it may temporarily shut down the hair follicles to concentrate on fighting Covid.

Anecdotal Evidence

Aside from the study, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence on social media and elsewhere online to suggest that people who thought they had fully recovered from the virus are losing their hair several months later. 30-year old Grace Dudley was hospitalised with the condition, but months after returning home, her hair started falling out in clumps. The experience was so bad that Grace chose to shave off her hair to raise £1,400 for the Little Princess Trust.

As with anything related to Covid-19, further research will be conducted to determine why TE is occurring and how prevalent it is. However, what we do know about telogen effluvium is that in the majority of cases, it will clear itself within three to six months. Although it can take significantly longer for your hair to be restored to its usual length.