Because recovering from the coronavirus isn’t enough, patients are now experiencing losing hair ‘in clumps’.
There seems to be a myriad of symptoms associated with COVID-19 beyond the general sore throat and temperature. Patients are experiencing symptoms ranging from headaches to red eyes, lung and heart problems and even ‘COVID toes’.
Now, patients are reporting an unusual complication after recovering from the virus – severe hair loss.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
In an online survey of 1,500 survivors in Facebook support group for people who have had COVID-19, Survivor Corps, 27 per cent of people reported experiencing “extreme hair loss” months after recovering from the virus.
Members shared their experience in the online group.
“Any extreme hair loss months after infection? I had COVID-19 in March, started having huge hair loss/turnover in June. I have a ridiculous amount of hair, so no balding or anything like that, but I’m losing a lot,” one of the group members posted.
Another coronavirus survivor Grace Dudley, posted on a GoFundMe page, explaining her hair “started to fall out a couple of weeks ago in clumps”.
“I went to a trichologist for them to examine my hair and they told me that I was going to lose most if not all of it,” the 30-year-old wrote.
“I asked why and they told me that I was so close to death from when I was in hospital with COVID that my body is going through the process of death and has taken all of the energy out of maintaining my hair into keeping me alive so now it all needs to fall out and regrow.”
Ms Dudley, who lost her father to COVID-19, was told it would take her about a year to regrow her hair and in the meantime will need to wear wigs.
“This virus just keeps kicking me down even three months later,” she wrote.
A third survivor, Theresa Cabrera, told Yahoo News that after she was discharged from spending a month in hospital sedated and on a ventilator, she went home to take a shower and found her hair “came out in my hands”.
“Now, when I make a ponytail, it’s less than a quarter of what it used to be,” Ms Cabrera said. “It’s horrible.”
While there is no published research about the long-term effects of coronavirus, experts believe the onset of hair loss is due to a mechanism called telogen effluvium (TE).
“After [experiencing] physiological stress, there is a condition that impacts the growth cycle of hair follicles. It’s called telogen effluvium, and it can be seen after many different types of illnesses, including malaria and tuberculosis,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Maryland US, told publication Health.
TE typically occurs three months after a stressful event, and affects both men and women. Moreover, even the psychological stress of contracting the coronavirus can cause TE.
Dr Adalja noted that it can last up to six months, and is basically a waiting game for hair to gradually return back to normal as new hair grows.
Essential coronavirus reading: what you need to know
How Australians should sensibly prepare for a COVID-19 pandemic, the most dangerous myths to not buy into, why surgical face masks aren’t the answer, the five-step hand washing method to memorise, the proper way to use hand sanitiser, why hand dryers are a part of the problem and the seven most effective ways to protect yourself, according to a doctor.