Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned many things about how this virus affects the body. We now know that many patients experience COVID-related issues long after their initial infection.
These ill effects can include breathing difficulties, heart palpitations, fatigue, and more. Some patients are struggling with an unexpected effect long after their COVID-19 infection: hair loss.
Cases of COVID-19 hair loss are becoming more prevalent as patients recover from their initial bout of COVID and notice the lasting impact it has had on their body. So what causes COVID-19 hair loss and how can it be remedied? Read on to learn why hair loss occurs after COVID and how it can be reversed.
Does COVID Cause Hair Loss?
While hair loss and COVID-19 may seem like two completely unrelated concerns, the number of patients struggling with thinning hair after their infection continues to increase. These patients report everything from increased strand fallout to losing clumps of hair by the handful.
It is important to note, not every person who has had COVID will experience hair loss afterwards. With that said, enough patients have reported thinning hair that experts are noting a correlation between the virus and hair loss.
This has left many people to wonder what it is about this virus that causes hair to fall out. Is hair loss unique to COVID-19, or does it occur with other viral infections?
What Is Causing Hair Loss in COVID-19 Patients?
You may be thinking it’s odd for a respiratory illness to affect someone’s hair. As it turns out, this is not an uncommon occurrence. After experiencing high fevers or an intense infection, it’s not unusual to see an increase in hair falling out.
This is not necessarily considered hair loss, but rather hair shedding. This phenomenon is called “telogen effluvium.” It occurs because the high fever forces more hairs than usual to enter the shedding (telogen) phase of their growth cycle.
Telogen effluvium typically occurs about three to four months after the initial infection. We all experience some hair falling out during the day, but while in telogen effluvium, you will notice an increase in this shedding. Many experts believe that this is what patients are noticing several months after their COVID infections.
One of the primary symptoms of COVID-19 is high fever. For patients who had particularly intense or prolonged fevers during their infections, the risk of post-COVID hair loss is likely increased. These fevers stimulate more hair follicles to enter their shedding phase, leading to a noticeable amount of thinning hair in later months.
Are Certain People More Likely to Experience Hair Loss After COVID?
You may be wondering if there are any risk factors that would make you more likely to experience hair loss after COVID. This is possible when things like age, preexisting conditions, and poor nutrition are taken into consideration. The following are all factors that can make COVID-19 hair loss more prominent.
Older individuals who recover from COVID are more likely to struggle with hair loss. Thinning hair is already a common occurrence with age, and both men and women experience natural hair loss as they age. When the high fevers associated with COVID cause telogen effluvium, it can lead to an increase in the hair loss already happening.
Patients with certain preexisting conditions may see a more significant amount of hair loss after having COVID-19. This applies mainly to underlying conditions that affect hormone levels. Thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to thinning hair.
When COVID-19 is added on top of a thyroid condition, patients can experience excessive hair loss.
Other conditions that can exacerbate COVID-19 hair loss include diabetes, Cushing syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Hair loss is already a symptom in all of these conditions, and the telogen effluvium brought on by COVID can make matters worse.
High Stress Levels
When it comes to hair loss, one of the leading causes is stress. High levels of stress can cause white blood cells to attack hair follicles, causing an increase in hair falling out.
Intense physical stress, such as injury or recovering from surgery, can cause this type of hair loss. Emotional stress, such as work or trauma, can lead to stress-induced hair loss as well.
The telogen effluvium caused by COVID-19 combined with stress-related hair thinning can create a significant amount of hair loss. Many patients find COVID itself to be a cause of stress, which may lead to additional follicle shedding.
Nutritional deficiencies are another leading cause of hair loss. Patients who lack certain vitamins and minerals in their diet often see increased follicle loss as well as slower regrowth.
This includes people who are deficient in protein, zinc, iron, and fatty acids. For patients who already have nutritional deficiencies, experiencing COVID-19 can lead to larger amounts of hair loss over time.
Many women experience hair loss during or after pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations. If you go through COVID-19 months before becoming pregnant, or during a pregnancy, it could exacerbate hair shedding.
Pregnant women who previously recovered from COVID have claimed to see clumps of hair falling out when brushing or washing it.
Famous Figures with COVID-19 Hair Loss
COVID-19 hair loss has been a headline in the last year, as numerous celebrities have spoken out about their experience with post-virus symptoms.
Charmed star Alyssa Milano has been very open about her struggles with hair loss after COVID. She even shared a video on Twitter showing how large amounts of hair were easily falling out when gently touched. Ms. Milano has since stated that topical treatments and supplements have helped resolve most of her hair loss.
Drake also shared his experience with hair loss and COVID-19 recently. The popular musician explained that he lost a great deal of hair shortly after having the virus. He claims that his hair eventually grew back in, but the growth pattern was entirely different than before.
Reality star Khloe Kardashian also opened up about struggling with post-COVID hair loss. She reported large amounts of hair shedding for several months after recovering from the virus. Apparently, her hair loss ceased as time went on, thanks to a well-balanced diet and supplements.
COVID-19 Hair Loss Treatment
With so many people experiencing COVID-related hair loss, surely there are solutions out there. If you’ve seen an increase in hair shedding after recovering from COVID, you’ve likely been searching for the best way to stimulate new hair growth and restore your full head of hair.
Below are six ways you can try to resolve hair loss after having COVID-19.
1. Hair Oil
There are various hair oils on the market that promise to restore hair growth once thinning has occurred. The most effective hair oils will penetrate deep into the scalp to kickstart the growth process at the follicular level. For a hair and scalp oil to be effective it should contain some combination of the following ingredients:
- Rosemary oil: Increases blood flow to the hair follicles
- Lavender oil: Stimulates new hair growth
- Peppermint: Acts as an antiseptic, killing bacteria that halts growth
- Lemongrass: Strengthens the hair follicle
When you massage a hair oil containing these all-natural ingredients deeply into your scalp, it provides a host of benefits. A product like Kavella's Scalp and Hair Oil Treatment can restart hair growth and lead to a fuller head of hair for people who are experiencing post-COVID hair shedding.
2. A Well-Balanced Diet
Since hair loss is made worse by nutritional deficiencies, following a well-balanced diet can help restore hair growth and prevent further shedding. There are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy hair growth. To combat COVID-related hair loss, you should be sure to follow a diet rich in these nutrients:
- Protein: Eggs, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, tuna, black beans
- Iron: Beef, chicken, oysters, lamb, liver
- Zinc: Dark chocolate, crab, lobster, mushrooms, spinach
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, sardines, flaxseed, sesame oil
While telogen effluvium can occur even in patients without nutritional deficiencies, having the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in your system will create healthier hair. This will make your scalp and hair follicles strong enough to withstand temporary COVID-19 hair loss and begin growing again like normal once time has passed.
3. Clarifying Hair Shampoo
Another COVID-19 hair loss treatment comes in the form of clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos are good ways to tackle hair loss because they rid the scalp of debris and bacteria that can block growth and damage the hair follicle. These shampoos often contain caffeine, which stimulates the scalp and encourages faster hair growth.
A product like Kavella’s Clarifying Shampoo removes buildup, detoxifies the skin, and even boosts circulation to the scalp. When circulation in the scalp increases, it brings more blood flow to the hair follicle. This increase in blood flow promotes the growth of stronger, healthier hair.
4. Natural Supplements
A popular way to battle ongoing hair loss is by taking natural supplements that promote new hair growth. There are all-natural supplements that have been specifically developed to decrease thinning hair. So what ingredients do these supplements contain? Natural hair growth supplements are often made with innovative formulas containing the following ingredients:
- Amino acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
When you supplement your diet with these nutrients they work together to strengthen hair follicles and stimulate new growth. They can be particularly helpful for people who are struggling with illness-induced hair loss, such as recovered COVID patients.
5. Scalp Massages
You may think that added friction or manipulation of the hair could lead to breakage or more falling strands, but gentle massaging can actually encourage growth. Performing regular scalp massages boosts blood flow to the scalp, creating healthier hair follicles.
These hair follicles can then grow thicker, longer hair. People suffering from COVID-related hair loss can benefit from daily scalp massages used in conjunction with hair oils and clarifying shampoos.
Scalp massages can be performed with your fingers or with specialty devices designed for this purpose. It is considered much easier and possibly more beneficial to just use your fingers while washing your hair or applying oil to the scalp.
To perform a scalp massage with your hands, first apply clarifying shampoo or hair oil directly to the scalp. Then gently place the tips of your fingers onto the scalp. While using your thumbs to keep your hand in one place, gently rotate your fingers in small circular motions to massage the product into the scalp.
6. Coconut Oil
Natural coconut oil is known to provide a host of benefits for both health issues and cosmetic concerns. When it comes to resolving hair loss and promoting healthier hair overall, coconut oil can be very effective.
Coconut oil contains a high concentration of fatty acids, which are essential nutrients for hair growth and increased hair strength. These fatty acids give coconut oil its power.
When using coconut oil to combat COVID-related hair loss, apply it directly to the scalp for best results. Warm a small amount of coconut oil in the palm of your hand and then massage it gently into the scalp. Allow it to sit for several hours or overnight before washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo and applying a hair oil.
Are You Struggling with COVID-19 Hair Loss?
Are you experiencing an increase in hair loss or shedding after a recent COVID-19 infection? Many people are finding themselves struggling with illness-induced hair loss months after recovering from COVID. If you’re seeing thinning hair long after your bout with COVID, you may be suffering from telogen effluvium.
A visit to your general physician can help confirm that your hair loss is COVID-related and not stemming from another underlying cause. Blood panels and other diagnostics can determine why your hair is thinning. Determining the source of your hair loss makes it easier to decide on the best treatment moving forward.