While we touched on this subject back in August, with the incidence of COVID-19 surging over the last two months, we have heard from many current patients who tested positive that are wondering what their COVID-19 diagnosis may mean for their hair. Over the past two years, we have learned a lot about the potential side effects of COVID-19 and one that has been in the news quite a bit is hair loss. First off, it is important to understand that not everyone with COVID-19 experienced hair loss, so just because you had the virus does not mean you will experience this side effect.
Hair loss associated with COVID-19 is called telogen effluvium, which typically presents as increased shedding all over the scalp. In a telogen effluvium episode, a greater number of hairs are shifted into the telogen phase, or resting phase, when hairs are normally shed to make way for new hairs. It is not that COVID-19 is specifically causing the hair loss, but instead, the stress that the body goes through while fighting the virus is what actually causes the shedding. During the immune response, cytokine proteins are released in the body and it is believed that these pro-inflammatory proteins are actually what is causing hairs to shift to the telogen phase. This can actually occur with any illness that causes severe stress on the body and is more likely with fevers.
Typically, with telogen effluvium-induced hair loss, the shedding occurs 3 to 4 months after stress, in this case when the illness occurred. However, what we are seeing with COVID-19 is that hair loss can sometimes occur faster, as soon as 4 weeks. The good news with telogen effluvium hair loss is that the hair will typically grow back over 6 to 9 months, however, there are things that can be done to help the hairs grow back faster and hopefully reduce the shedding. Being on a hair loss supplement, like our Tresse Revitalizer and Fortifier, is especially important. Low-level laser therapy is also a great treatment to reduce shedding and help with regrowth.
For patients that are currently in their Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy or Optimal Platelet Concentration (OPC) Therapy treatment series, we would recommend continuing treatment. However, we would not start these treatments during any significant shedding event and would want to wait until the shedding subsided.
Lastly, one of the leading causes of telogen effluvium is stress, so make sure to talk to hair loss specialist right away to help take some of the stress out of the situation. You have treatment options and if you believe that you are experiencing shedding due to your past COVID-19 infection, or for any other reason, contact our offices today.