Over the past few years, COVID-19 has kept the world on tenterhooks. The symptoms are now widely known: fever, dry cough and fatigue. However, some patients also suffer from hair loss.So far, relatively little is known about the long-term effects of a corona infection. Hair shedding as a symptom of COVID-19 has only relatively recently been identified.One study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, showed that up to 22% of people who have become ill from the coronavirus have experienced hair loss.The study showed that this hair loss was not related to whether patients required hospital treatment or emergency oxygen. The proportion suffering hair loss was roughly the same no matter how ill they became.
What causes hair loss after a Corona infection?
The exact reasons why the hair suddenly starts to fall out more after a COVID-19 disease have not yet been clarified.The study published in the Lancet did not offer explanations as to why hair fell out. As it is a new disease, research is ongoing all the time, but the results take time to become apparent.
Hair thinning as a symptom of long COVID
Hair thinning is also called telogen effluvium. Hair falls out evenly distributed over the whole head. The hair can even thin out to the point where the scalp shows through.Many patients experiencing telogen effluvium as a result of Covid-19 report that their hair did not fall out significantly until about three months after they had overcome the disease.American actress Alyssa Milano also suffered from these side effects, as could be followed on her Instagram channel. She overcame the disease, but still suffers from long Covid.In diffuse hair loss, the hair cycle (growing phase, transition phase, rest phase) is disrupted. The growth phase is shortened and too many hairs skip the transition phase and at the same time to enter the shedding phase (telogen phase). This means that too many hairs fall out at the same time to maintain hair density, causing noticeable hair loss.Telogen effluvium usually begins two to four months after a specific trigger, in this case the corona infection. Depending on the severity of the diffuse hair loss, about 20% to 50% of the scalp hair falls out at once.One mechanism that could possibly lead to diffuse hair loss that many Corona patients suffer extreme stress. Stressful events are well known to lead to hair loss.
However, another possible explanation is two autoantigens (molecules produced by the body that act as antigens to fight against infections). It may be that these mistakenly target the hair follicles However, research on this is still in its infancy.
Other long-Covid symptoms can include loss of sense of smell and taste, extreme shortness of breath, fatigue, or extreme loss of performance and energy.If your hair loss is happening with one or more of these other symptoms, there is a chance it is related to COVID-19.
Will the hair grow back?
The good news is that the majority of recovered Covid 19 patients report that their hair has only fallen out temporarily and will eventually grow back again.This may take some time, however. Patience is needed until the hair growth is back to normal.
However, if the hair does not grow back, a hair transplant in Turkey could solve this problem.
Dr. Levent Acar at Cosmedica Clinic will be happy to provide information about this. Dr. Acar will make sure to conduct a full examination to make sure that no unnecessary operation is carried out.
On the other hand, pre-existing hair loss can be revealed by sudden hair shedding such as that caused by a covid infection. This may be best dealt with by a hair transplant.
What hair loss is not caused by corona?
Different types of hair loss usually have different causes. An infection by the Coronavirus can cause hair thinning under certain circumstances, but the following symptoms are separate conditions and not caused by COVID.
Circular hair loss (alopecia areata)
In circular hair loss, the body’s immune system suddenly attacks the hair follicles. As a result, small foci of inflammation develop in the hair follicles and the hair then falls out. This causes the typical circular/oval bald patches on the head and, in men, especially in the facial hair.The causes of Alopecia Areata have not yet been fully understood. Other forms of this type of hair loss include Alopecia Ophiasis (hair falls from the back and sides of the scalp), Alopecia Totalis (all the head hair falls out) and Alopecia Universalis (all body hair falls out).These types of hair loss are extremely unlikely to be caused by the Coronavirus.
Genetic hair loss
In androgenetic alopecia – hereditary hair loss – the hair roots react sensitively to the androgen DHT, which in turn is formed from the male hormone testosterone.In this type of hair loss, the hair follicles shrink. The growth phase is extremely shortened, causing the hair to grow back thinner and thinner.Hereditary hair loss is genetic and depends on family predisposition. In men it usually begins in the early twenties and in women with the onset of the menopause.
In the case of androgenetic hair loss, a hair transplant can provide permanent and lasting relief. Here, too, Dr Acar’s team at the Cosmedica Clinic will be happy to answer any questions you may have.