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COVID-19 and Hair Loss

Posted by David Beckman on
COVID-19 and Hair Loss

All of us naturally shed hair every day. It’s not uncommon for someone to lose 50-100 hairs each day. Sometimes, however, the hair that has shed isn’t replaced by new hair. This can eventually lead to hair thinning or bald patches. This is known as hair loss.

Hair loss is often thought to affect the hair only. It can also affect other parts of your body.

Alopecia is the medical term for hair fall.

A condition known as telogen effluvium, or TE, is the cause of hair loss after COVID-19. People suffering from TE experience sudden hair loss. The hair falls out in large clumps when you shower or brush.

Most people who experience TE notice a noticeable decrease in hair growth within 2 to 3 months of the triggering event. It usually affects less than half the scalp and can last for six to nine months. Most people find that their lost hair grows back after this time.

What does this have to do with COVID-19? Acute illness with fever is one of the possible triggers for TE. COVID-19-infected patients often have fever as one of their symptoms.

What is the mechanism behind TE?

Different growth phases are available for hair. When a stressful event causes hair to stop growing, and go into the resting (telogen), phase.

The telogen phase is when hairs are allowed to rest for up to three months. After that, they shed to make way for new growth. This is why hair fall due to TE can occur so long after triggering events such as illness or high stress periods.

 

Alopecia is the medical term for hair fall.

What are the most common causes of hair loss?

Androgenic alopecia is the most common cause for hair loss. This can also be referred to as male- or female pattern hair loss.

This type of hair loss can be passed on from your parents. As you get older, androgenic alopecia develops gradually and follows predictable patterns in both men and women.

Hair loss could also be caused by:

Hormonal changes can occur in pregnancy, menopause or as a result of thyroid conditions.

Health conditions such as alopecia areata or hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania), and scalp ringworm.

Stressors as seen with telogen effluvium

Iron deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies

Some medications and therapies, such those that treat high blood pressure, depression, or cancer, may not be available.

Grooming techniques that pull your hair (traction hair loss) or are too harsh for your hair

How can hair loss be diagnosed?

As you get older, hair loss is common. Sometimes, it may indicate a more serious condition.Your doctor will determine if hair loss is due to a medical condition. Take your medical history, this can include questions about:

Your family history

Any pre-existing conditions

What medications are you taking?

How to groom your hair

Your diet

Perform a physical exam, which may include pulling a few dozen hairs in order to determine how much hair is falling. Take a look at hair samples under a microscope. Order blood tests to identify any health conditions that could cause hair loss.

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