We’ve known persistent fatigue, shortness of breath, or even brain fog. But for many people who have contracted the virus, the Covid-19 would also result in hair loss.
Hair that falls out in droves every day and a cause for concern for those who suffer from it. Is this phenomenon really due to the coronavirus? Is this hair loss irreversible or are there effective treatments?
A classic phenomenon of infectious diseases
Contaminated by the Omicron variant a few months ago, Iris, whose hair was waist-length, quickly found that she was losing it significantly. “When I contracted the coronavirus, I had the classic symptoms: headache and sore throat, body aches, fever, cough, severe fatigue and loss of taste and smell,” says the 28-year-old young woman. I carried the cough and tiredness out for a while, then felt better and thought it was over. But over the weeks that followed, with every brush stroke, and even every time I just ran my hand through my hair, I found I was losing a good handful of it.
Like her, many patients testify to the same experience on social networks. So is there really a connection? “Yes, this phenomenon affects about 25% of people who have contracted Covid-19,” replies Dr. Isabelle Rousseaux, dermatologist and member of the National Syndicate of Dermatologists-Venerologists. Hair loss occurs as a result of the disease after recovery. It is a consequence or persistent symptom observed in people suffering from long covid.
Like other viruses, Covid-19 can therefore cause hair loss. “It’s seen fairly frequently in patients contracting infectious diseases that cause high fever, severe fatigue, and great stress,” explains Dr. Rousseaux, it’s also the case for many women after childbirth.” For example, many people notice “a noticeable loss of hair a few months after they have had a high fever – which is a common symptom of Covid-19 – or have recovered from an illness” , according to the American Academy of Dermatology, which answered the question.
Having recovered from the illness, “the organization still retains some stigma. A kind of numbing of the hair growth can take place, Dr. Rousseaux away. Normally the hair goes through three phases and when everything goes well the majority of the hair is in the growth phase, a small part in the resting phase and a small part in the falling phase. In practice: After the growth phase, which lasts between three and six years, hair stops growing and goes into a resting phase before falling out. But when Covid-19 disrupts the hair cycle, the hair stops growing and falls out: this is called telogen effluvium.”
But don’t panic, “this is a normal phenomenon insofar as it is part of the hair’s life cycle,” reassures the dermatologist. Normally a person loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day, but after a Covid it can be a little more. But the loss is diffuse, distributed throughout the scalp, it does not cause cavities.” And according to the observations, “More women are affected,” notes Dr. Rousseaux feast. Maybe there’s a hormonal influence, but it’s also possible that long hair makes hair loss more noticeable in women who can see their hair piling up in their brush.”
A temporary phenomenon
For her part, Iris “hope this symptom doesn’t last too long, it’s been going on for several weeks and I’m getting worried”. But “when the cause of hair loss is due to fever, illness, or stress, the hair will normalize on its own,” assures the American Academy of Dermatology. Fortunately, “it’s a temporary phenomenon,” adds Dr. Rousseaux. The phase of increased hair loss usually lasts three to four months, after which the hair cycle returns to its normal rhythm and regrowth begins again. On the other hand, the concern with long hair is that it will take time to regrow before returning to the original length. We can have a slightly long interval where we feel like we have less hair mass.”
To remedy this, “Iris is considering following a number of supplements to speed up regrowth.” My pharmacy sells it in capsules and even in gummies, I tell myself it can’t hurt”. But for dr Rousseaux, “These remedies are rubbish! First, hair growth follows its own rhythm: it grows programmed like a computer, about an inch a month, and nothing can speed it up. In addition, unlike pharmaceuticals, there is currently no legislation on dietary supplements. The latter therefore made a lot of promises, but without results”. However, since stress can affect hair health, “taking a regimen can have a psychological effect: we think it helps and can relieve stress. But it is most noticeable on the wallet! If after six months there is no return to normal, you should talk to your doctor. But in most cases you just have to be patient.”