Patients Report Hair Loss Months After Recovering From COVID-19

A growing number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are reporting hair loss months after they stopped experiencing other symptoms from the viral infection. One dermatologist who works at the Cleveland Clinic told The Oregonian that he has seen an uptick in patients undergoing hair loss. Before the pandemic, Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal would see about five patients a week, but since June, the number of patients has jumped to about 25 per week.

One woman from Pennsylvania says that her hair started falling out about two months after recovering from COVID-19. Stacey Maravola had a mild case of the virus, with symptoms lasting just a few days. After she tested negative, she began to suffer from debilitating fatigue, joint pain, and rashes. Then one day, she noticed her hair started to fall out while she was taking a shower.

"I've had to limit hair washes because I'm terrified," she told NBC News. "I'm not a big emotional person, but I can tell you, this has changed me. I cry every single time I take a shower."

Researchers have found no evidence that COVID-19 attacks the hair follicles, and they believe hair loss is the result of physiological and emotional stress related to the coronavirus.

"It's just all the other tolls of the pandemic that are leading to the hair loss," such as financial worries or grieving the death of a family member, said Dr. Lauren Kole, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, told NBC News.

Dr. Alexis E. Carrington, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of California-Davis Department of Dermatology, explained that "hair loss seen in some COVID-19-positive patients is called telogen effluvium, which is a type of hair loss that happens after physical or emotional stress, including fever, illnesses or weight loss."

Carrington said that telogen effluvium isn't permanent, but it can last up to nine months in some cases. She suggested that the best way to deal with hair loss is to reduce the amount of stress you are under. While that may not be easy in the middle of a global pandemic, she offered a few ideas in an article published by the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

"Easing stress is an important component of managing hair loss. Ways of doing this include getting that full eight hours of sleep, taking a socially distanced walk or run outside for at least 30 minutes if able, yoga and/or meditation, and participating in any favorite hobbies. Especially during these times of stress and uncertainty during the pandemic, it is essential to manage stress to improve health as a whole."

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