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If Your Hair is Falling Out, This May Be Why, Say Doctors

'Long-haulers' are reporting a surprising new side effect: hair loss.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Woman brushing her hair with a wooden comb

Fever, dry cough, body aches—you've heard of all the main symptoms of coronavirus. "COVID-19 associated hair loss typically starts after recovery, usually six-eight weeks after the person tests positive. It can be extensive and severe, and people have been known to lose up to 30-40 per cent of their hair,"  Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, consultant dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon, MedLinks, Delhi, tells Vogue India.

"While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't recognize hair loss as a symptom of COVID-19, more than 27% of at least 1,100 poll respondents in the Survivor Corps Facebook group reported hair loss," reports USA Today. "Dr. Michele S. Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said there's been an influx of patients seeking treatment for hair loss during quarantine and after she reopened her office. 'Patients have literally come in with bags of hair looking like a full head of hair was in the bag," she said. "They all have similar stories. That they were extremely sick with high fevers and have never been that sick in their entire lives.'"

RELATED: Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It

Stress is a Factor

Patients aren't losing hair directly because of the virus, doctors hypothesize. Instead, the body is in shock fighting the virus, and this creates a stress reaction or puts the immune system into overdrive. The clinical term is Telogen effluvium. "TE first appears as a thinning of hair on the scalp," reports Healthline. "This thinning may be limited to one area or appear all over. If it does thin in multiple places, you may find that some areas are affected more than others. It affects the top of the scalp most often. Rarely will TE cause your hairline to recede. It's also unlikely that you'll lose all of your hair. In some severe cases, TE can cause hair in other areas to fall out."

RELATED: The Surprising Reason Why You Are Losing Your Hair

You Are Not Alone

If this is happening to you, you are not alone. Stories are popping up everywhere. "Since getting COVID-19 in March, Juli Fisher, a travel nurse who was caring for COVID patients in an assisted living facility, has dealt with a long list of crippling symptoms herself," reports WebMD. "Most were ones she expected because they were in line with well-known symptoms. But one was more surprising to her when it emerged several weeks into her illness—hair loss."

"I started noticing gobs of hair coming out when I took a shower. At first I thought it was that I was using a cheaper shampoo, but it soon became obvious, as more and more came out, that this was something else," she told the website. "Once she joined a Facebook group for other 'Long Haulers'—people whose symptoms aren't going away after a few weeks—she realized she wasn't alone—'When I saw others had it, I realized, oh, this is COVID-related, too.'"

As for yourself, if you are experience hair loss, accompanied by a long illness, contact your medical professional. And do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place including vaccinating. And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more