While we know fever, chills, loss of taste and smell, as well as a dry cough and shortness of breath are all key symptoms of coronavirus, there are a few others that have been reported by patients that aren’t as common. One of the newest symptoms is now hair loss.
To be clear, the CDC has yet to identity hair loss as a true symptom of COVID-19. However, as USA Today reports, a survey that polled at least 1,100 people in the Survivor Corps Facebook group, would suggest otherwise. More than 27% of survivors reported that they suffered from hair loss.
USA Today also spoke with a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Dr. Michele S. Green, who said that she has experienced an influx of patients coming in seeking hair loss treatment since the pandemic started.
“Patients have literally come in with bags of hair looking like a full head of hair was in the bag,” she said. “They all have similar stories. That they were extremely sick with high fevers and have never been that sick in their entire lives.”
Juli Fisher, a travel nurse who contracted the virus while tending to COVID-19 patients in an assisted facility told WebMD that even after several weeks of being diagnosed, she had major hair loss.
“I started noticing gobs of hair coming out when I took a shower. At first, I thought it was that I was using a cheaper shampoo, but it soon became obvious, as more and more came out, that this was something else,” she said.
Experts are saying that COVID-19 may indirectly cause hair loss. Instead, they explain that hair loss, in this case, is a stress response that occurs after the body combats the virus. The condition is referred to as Telogen effluvium, which is often triggered by major physical trauma, stress, and severe infection, for example. (Related: Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest coronavirus foods news delivered straight to your inbox.)
Sara Hogan MD, a health sciences clinical instructor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is also quoted by WebMD saying, “There are three common cycles in hair‘s life cycle. Up to 90% at any time are growing, 5% are in a resting phase, and up to 10% are shedding. When you have a major stress event or shock, up to 50% of your hair can sprint ahead to the shedding phase.”
Yes, 50% hair loss is dramatic, however, she adds that it’s usually temporary and only lasts for four to six months.