Fever, dry cough, body aches—you’ve heard of all the main symptoms of coronavirus. Add a new one to the list, for those who have had it for more than a few weeks: hair loss.
“While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recognize hair loss as a symptom of COVID-19, more than 27% of at least 1,100 poll respondents in the Survivor Corps Facebook group reported hair loss,” reports USA Today. “Dr. Michele S. Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said there’s been an influx of patients seeking treatment for hair loss during quarantine and after she reopened her office. ‘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.'”
Stress is a Factor
Patients aren’t losing hair directly because of the virus, doctors hypothesize. Instead, the body is in shock fighting the virus, and this creates a stress reaction or puts the immune system into overdrive. The clinical term is Telogen effluvium. “TE first appears as a thinning of hair on the scalp,” reports Healthline. “This thinning may be limited to one area or appear all over. If it does thin in multiple places, you may find that some areas are affected more than others. It affects the top of the scalp most often. Rarely will TE cause your hairline to recede. It’s also unlikely that you’ll lose all of your hair. In some severe cases, TE can cause hair in other areas to fall out.”
You Are Not Alone
If this is happening to you, you are not alone. Stories are popping up everywhere. “Since getting COVID-19 in March, Juli Fisher, a travel nurse who was caring for COVID patients in an assisted living facility, has dealt with a long list of crippling symptoms herself,” reports WebMD. “Most were ones she expected because they were in line with well-known symptoms. But one was more surprising to her when it emerged several weeks into her illness—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 told the website. “Once she joined a Facebook group for other ‘Long Haulers’—people whose symptoms aren’t going away after a few weeks—she realized she wasn’t alone—’When I saw others had it, I realized, oh, this is COVID-related, too.'”
As for yourself, if you are experience hair loss, accompanied by a long illness, contact your medical professional. And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.