Hair loss after Covid-19. Don’t worry!

There are many side effects that can occur after having Covid-19, including loss of taste and smell, brain fog, and chronic fatigue. Hair loss, while alarming, is not uncommon, but is usually short lived.

Telogen effluvium is a condition that results after a stress, either physical or mental. After such, the hairs get shocked and go into the resting phase (telogen phase). Usually, a few months later one notices hairs starting to fall out in the shower, while brushing their hair, or when running their fingers through their hair. So what is going on?

Under “normal” circumstances, about 90% of our hairs are in the growth phase (anagen). On the scalp, this growth phase lasts 3 or more years after which they transition to the resting state (telogen). When there is a stress on the body, such as being sick or having a mental stress, up to 50% of the hairs may enter the resting phase. This results in shedding several months later that can last about 3 months. The good news is that the hair will regrow and return to its normal state, although this can take years for those with long hair.

Chronic telogen effluvium has been reported for those who are chronically sick with Covid-19, but this is not common. Treatment is usually unnecessary as this condition resolves on its own. Using medications, such as topical minoxidil may be helpful, but it can be difficult to know when to stop and, when doing so, may result in hair loss. In most cases, one should consider treatment when the hair loss continues for more that 4 to 6 months.

Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist