Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?

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Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?
Healthcare cure concept with a hand in blue medical gloves holding Coronavirus, Covid 19 virus, vaccine vial

Covid is having more and more known possible side effects, especially the longer it has been around. If you have or have had covid, you may find yourself losing more hair. So, you may find yourself asking if the larger amount of hairs on your brush is due to this new sickness.

To understand if covid really can be causing your hair loss, we are going to have to see about a closer look at how it affects your body and how the symptoms can affect your hair. Then we can see what you can do to help your hair grow in spite of covid.

How Covid Affects You

At this point, the covid symptoms are something that you may have already memorized. However, knowing the symptoms doesn’t necessarily show just how it affects you. But covid actually has a couple of different ways that it can affect you.

With Covid

The more common covid side effects are fever, fatigue, and general cold-like symptoms like runny or stopped up noses, coughing, sneezing, sore throats, etc. In fact, many can mistake covid for a cold at first, which is why it is important to test.

A few of the lesser covid side effects include things like a loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. Covid is also fairly well known for causing problems with your blood flow. This is due to blood clotting, but it is partially to blame for the fact that covid seems to have a strong likelihood of making you not get enough oxygen.

This is more than because of the pneumonia that covid can also cause, which is bad enough. But it can simply make it hard for your cells to oxygenate properly. This lack of oxygen can cause a host of secondary problems and affect your brain and internal organs.

Also, covid symptoms can last for quite a while, often getting severe enough to require a stay in the hospital. The longer these covid symptoms last, whether or not they ever get that serious, the harder it is on your physically.

This causes physical stress and strain on your body. What can make the strain worse is the possibility of the side effect of sleeplessness that can come with covid. An inability to sleep well will make it harder for you to get better.

And all of that is covid’s effects on you, not even getting into the possible side effects of the treatments. Almost all of the covid treatments, even the vaccines, have some sort of potential side effect. Depending on the specific medication and the reaction, these can cause permanent problems later on. 

Covid’s Effects Without Getting It

Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?

Besides the better known symptoms, covid is stressful on your body all around. More than that, covid is stressful mentally between the worry it can cause, the worry about getting it, and everything else. Covid can even be stressful mentally on you without you even having to get it.

Stress potentially affects your body in many different ways, none of which are good. It can affect your sleep, drag your immune system down, cause nervous twitching, give you a stomach ulcer, and more. Lowering your immune system is something that you really don’t want with covid around.

Stress is also something that can majorly interfere with your sleep. With the quarantine, many people are also getting low on Vitamin D due to lack of sunlight. A lack of Vitamin D can cause any number of problems.

Also, not getting sunlight can cause SAD syndrome, depression, and other things that certainly won’t help with stress. Even less people are going to the gym or any of those exercise places as well. This means, on top of the stress, fewer people are getting the exercise they need to stay healthy. In turn, more people are having health problems even without getting covid.

How All This Can Affect Your Hair

Again, there are two different ways that covid can affect you, and there are also two different ways covid can affect your hair. Technically, as you are about to see, almost everything about covid can affect your hair.

With Covid

As for the more thought of symptoms of covid, these can affect your hair as well. A high enough fever over a long enough time, for example, can instantly start causing your hair to shed. Or, a fever can cause your hair to shed about a month and a half later and last for a few weeks before it tapers off.

Fever and being sick in general can increase inflammation, and that, as always, is a big problem for hair too. Your blood not getting enough oxygen is obviously something that negatively impacts your hair as well. Additionally, the lack of sleep makes it harder for your body, including your hair, to recover.

Your hair also needs lots of nutrients, which is why any loss of appetite or diarrhea is bad. Anything that prevents you from getting enough nutrients is going to be bad for your hair. So, the clotting problems that also come with covid just make this even worse.

These clots can continue being problematic even after you recover from covid. This makes getting nutrients to your hair a long term problem even afterward.  

Finally, a couple of the common covid treatments are known to have hair loss as a side effect. If you get covid, there is an absolute need to get some sort of treatment for it. But you should read the risks of these.

Covid’s Effects Without Getting It

While it might be somewhat cathartic to joke about how stressful the lockdown, new procedures, and everything else can be, that doesn’t change the fact that stress is really bad for your hair growth. Stress alone, without you getting covid at all, can make you lose your hair.

In fact, after the announcement of the quarantine, there was already an increase in hair loss a few months later. This wasn’t from those that had covid themselves, but those who were extremely stressed due to all of the changes that were happening because of the lockdown.

This is often called telogen effluvium and usually hits about three to five months after the stressful event. It doesn’t matter if the stressful event is mental, like the loss of a job, fear, or the death of someone, or if it is physical, like a severe illness, high fevers, hospitalization, or medications.

Then, if your stress is making it hard for you to sleep, again, that is also going to affect your hair. A lack of enough Vitamin D from being indoors so much can also negatively affect your hair. And these possible ways covid can affect your hair are just the more obvious ones.

What People Are Seeing

It is uncertain just how likely covid is to cause you to start losing your hair. However, the trend of hair loss caused by covid is one that is only growing. Hair experts have been noticing that more people are suffering from hair loss after having covid.

What is possibly worse about this side effect is the fact that the hair loss seems to come on suddenly. Many people seem to be getting a sudden onset of hair loss a few months after having had covid. This can be frightening, especially to those who have had no problems with hair loss previously.

Part of the reason for both the suddenness and the delay is simply due to your body’s natural cycles. While some types of stress can make hair start to fall out almost immediately, others can interrupt your hair’s natural cycles.

This latter type lets your hair grow normally or a little while longer. Then, as your hair cycles to the next growth phase, your hair falls out instead and is slower to grow back. If you suddenly have hair loss months after getting covid, you are not alone.

In fact, there is a Facebook group for those who have had covid, and many of those there mention the hair loss they have had. In this group, about a third of the survivors have noted some level of hair loss. Some of these have lost about a third of their hair either over a few months or more rapidly.

All in all, it is highly likely you will have some amount of hair loss from covid. This loss can happen before, during, or months after having covid. Though it will likely resolve itself over time in about a year, there is a chance that it may not.

What You Can Do About It

Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?

Though covid has a track record of making everyone feel helpless, the truth is that you aren’t. There are things you can do to have more control, both in helping with covid and in helping with your hair loss. First, try to get rid of as much stress as you can during this time.

It can be extremely worrying to get covid yourself or to have a loved one get it. Even knowing that worrying won’t help, it is not something that is easy to just turn off. Still, trying things like meditation, relaxing music, and relaxing fragrances can help.

While you have covid, try to take care of yourself as much as possible. Make sure to get enough nutrients, especially if your stomach is having problems. Taking vitamins, and especially ones that your immune system needs like Vitamin C, should be a given.

In addition, try to sleep all you can, though a lack of sleep can sometimes be a symptom of covid. This is why melatonin and relaxing teas might be helpful here.

Also, find some good hair growth products, things like natural stimulants and ones rich in vitamins and minerals. Applying these products before, during, and especially after you get covid should help reduce the damage and maybe prevent it.

Keep using these for at least a few months after you get covid, and in the meantime, be very gentle with your hair. Avoid harsh chemicals, even ones that are to help with hair loss. Don’t use too much unnecessary heat on your hair, and avoid pulling on your hair with ponytails and other tight things.

Lastly, make sure you are getting enough exercise and sunlight. Even if the only way to get direct sunlight is to open up a window, do so every day.

Final Thoughts

So, covid can clearly cause hair loss for a lot of reasons. It can even put you in one of those negative cycles where the stress causes hair loss, leading to more stress as your hair falls out.

Perhaps the only good news, apart from the fact that there are things you can do to help prevent this from happening, is the fact that most of these things will eventually resolve themselves. So, in six to nine months after losing hair due to covid, it should start coming back in again.

If your hair isn’t growing back by then, well, then your hair loss is probably due to something else. The same goes for if you have other things wrong like redness, flaking, itching, or pain on your scalp. In either case, your hair loss is probably not from covid.

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Christopher is the founder of Hair Loss Geeks, which launched back in 2011. At the time there wasn't any credible information on the internet about hair loss. As someone suffering from hair loss himself, Christopher began his extensive research journey. After launching the site, he later graduated from Boston University in 2012 with his PhD in Biochemistry. What started off as a hobby project quickly became a bigger focus as it grew. Christopher hopes everyone can learn from both his experience and research.

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