Fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste and smell. These are the most commonly identified symptoms of COVID-19. However, over the last year, researchers have identified a slew of other manifestations of the highly transmissible virus, some of them being quite unusual. One of the most surprising? Some people — including actress Alyssa Milano — are experiencing hair loss — months after their initial infection. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“Alopecia Is a Late-onset Symptom of COVID-19”
“Alopecia is a late-onset symptom of COVID-19,” explained a November study published in the medical journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. “The cause of alopecia is unknown; however, androgenic alopecia and telogen effluvium are possible causes.”
Their research involved 58 patients who had been admitted to the Disease Control and Prevention Center. Of them, 14 (24.1%) reported alopecia, five were women and nine were men. On average, the hair loss occurred 58.6 days after their first COVID-19 symptom. Of the 14, the symptoms only resolved in five patients with a mean time of 76.4 days.
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Hair Loss May Be a Result of Fever or Stress
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, hair loss isn’t an uncommon symptom of illness—especially for those who suffered a high fever or emotional stress. “Fever is a common symptom of COVID-19. A few months after having a high fever or recovering from an illness, many people see noticeable hair loss,” they explain on their website. “While many people think of this as hair loss, it’s actually hair shedding.”
This type of hair shedding has a medical name, telogen effluvium. “It happens when more hairs than normal enter the shedding (telogen) phase of the hair growth lifecycle at the same time. A fever or illness can force more hairs into the shedding phase,” they explain.
And, confirming the above research, this typically occurs “two to three months after having a fever or illness,” they explain. “Handfuls of hair can come out when you shower or brush your hair. This hair shedding can last for six to nine months before it stops. Most people then see their hair start to look normal again and stop shedding.”
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Eventually, “Hair Shedding” Should Resolve Itself
Fortunately, this symptom generally resolves without medical intervention. “When the cause of your hair shedding is due to a fever, illness, or stress, hair tends to return to normal on its own. You just have to give it time,” they say. “As your hair grows back, you’ll notice short hairs that are all the same length by your hairline. Most people see their hair regain its normal fullness within six to nine months.”
For Milano, the symptom lasted longer, since she has Post-COVID Syndrome, a series of symptoms that last well after the virus leaves your body. “I think any time you don’t see an end in sight, it’s terrifying,” she told Dr. Oz. “It’s hard, especially when you’re an actor and so much of your identity is wrapped up in those things like having long silky hair and clean skin,” she said. “Along with that also, I have the brain fog.”
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Dr. Anthony Fauci‘s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.