As if COVID-19 hadn’t given us enough to worry about already, new reports are starting to suggest that the virus could also cause hair loss in those patients who suffer from longer term problems.
A facebook group, Survivor Corp, was set up to unite these patients, who refer to themselves as ‘long haulers’. After the group had discussed ongoing symptoms among themselves, they decided to put out a survey to try to get an idea of the most common long-term problems for COVID survivors.
With help from The University of Indiana School of Medicine, the survey results were compiled into a report, which showed some startling figures.
Whilst the top ranked symptoms were to be expected – fatigue, muscle weakness and other issues associated with coronavirus – hair loss fell in 21st place, with 27% of respondents to the initial survey reporting hair thinning. A revised report suggests it could even be as high as 34.3%.
Why would COVID cause hair loss?
According to medical experts who have treated these patients, the type of hair loss most frequently seen in COVID survivors is telogen effluvium. This is a condition whereby hair in the ‘telogen’, or resting, phase of the growth cycle sheds suddenly – usually due to a shock to the system.
This ‘shock’ can be psychological or emotional, but can also be brought on by surgery or major illness, as in the case of COVID-19.
The good news is that telogen effluvium is a temporary condition, and the hair will grow back by itself in time. But if the hair loss is causing you distress, there are some things you can do to help:
1. Consider a change of hairstyle
A hair cut can help disguise the thinning areas – shorter hair has more volume, as it weighs less. Your hairstylist will also be able to offer tips on how to style your hair to best hide the hair loss.
2. Think about how your diet affects your hair loss
If you want to help your hair to grow back quickly, it might be worth thinking about what you are putting into your body. Some foods are much better for hair growth than others. Things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats are all great for your hair. And, the good news is that a healthy diet can only help with some of the other long-term COVID symptoms too.
3. Avoid overstyling your hair
We all know that bleaching and heat-styling our hair causes damage, but if you’re suffering from telogen effluvium, now really is the time to knock all that styling on the head. Your hair will thank you for it!
At the end of the day, there is sadly no miracle treatment for telogen effluvium – in this case, time really is a great healer. But these tips could help to make that time more manageable for you.