Chinese researchers found that 22% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 lost their hair six months after being discharged. The new study adds one more symptom to what experts call “long COVID,” post-infection illness that often plagues sufferers.
According to the Daily Mail, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences say that the hair loss could be linked to a normal physiological response to the stress and trauma of COVID-19 and could be temporary. The hair loss may also be caused by COVID-19 itself and could possibly be permanent.
The researchers said their study was the largest one of its kind assessing the health consequences of patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19. They interviewed patients six months after they left the hospital and performed various medical assessment tests. The most common long-term symptoms reported included fatigue, muscle weakness, difficulties sleeping, and anxiety or depression, according to the Daily Mail.
But hair loss was also one of the primary concerns. According to The New York Times, pandemic-induced stress and post-infection inflammation can definitely cause temporary hair loss. Telogen effluvium, or temporary hair loss, can be triggered by fever, illness, and severe stress.
"Any type of severe stress can trigger it, whether it's stress on your body from illness or emotional stress such as the death of a loved one," said Dr. Abigail Cline, MD, a dermatology resident at New York Medical College told the Times. "Even though not everyone has been infected with COVID-19, we're all living with it."
The Henry Ford Health System found that the even the stress and fear of the virus caused severe hair shedding in people.
“Emotional or physical trauma, pregnancy, hospitalization or infection can cause hair to switch from the growing phase to the shedding phase,” explained dermatologist Helen D’Sa, at the Henry Ford Health System. “While shedding hair is a normal part of the hair cycle, excessive shedding is not.”
Jerry Shapiro, MD, a dermatologist at New York City-based NYU Langone Health told the Times that a high fever or flu-like illness can disrupt the normal ratio of growing to resting hairs. Growing hairs typically make up 90 percent of hair, while resting hairs make up 10 percent. When disrupted, it can shift to a 50-50 ratio.
Many sufferers, eager to regain their crowning glories, have tried several products to restore hair growth. According to the Times, RevitaLash shampoo and Nutrafol supplements have been helpful. Nutrafol’s sales skyrocketed 60% last year, says a company spokesperson.
If you do not want to wait months for a shampoo or supplement to work, hair stylists advise getting a short, blunt cut to give the appearance of fullness. Also, be especially gentle drying and styling fragile hair, says Justine Marjan, a well-known celebrity hair stylist.
It is best not to panic, says Dr. Cline. “Stressing about it will only cause more hair loss,” she told the Times. “I reassure patients with telogen effluvium that their hair will grow back, but it’s going to take time.”
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.