COVID-19 and Hair Loss

Happy August everyone.  I know for myself that when we get to the middle of August, I start to get very sad about the end of the summer.  This year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it has been one of the hardest summers for many of us.  I know it has been for me.  The anxiety surrounding children going back to school has only heightened the stress for many people.  My son and daughter-in-law are both teachers and I have several grandchildren who desperately need the social connection that school provides.  And yet, they still aren’t sure what school is going to look like.  Again, more stress for parents, teachers (and concerned grandmothers!)

In light of what we are all going through, I thought it would be helpful to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 infection, as well as stress, on our hair health.  Many of you may have seen the headline on CNN,  “Alyssa Milano says she’s losing her hair after battling COVID-19 for months”.  Included in the story was a video showing her hair brush full of hair.  In the last couple of months, I have spoken to several women who did have COVID-19 infections, and like Alyssa Milano, have experienced significant shedding about 2-3 months after being ill.  We know very little about the long term consequences of this new virus, so it is unclear whether the shedding is a direct result of this particular infection or a telogen effluvium  (TE) which can occur with any significant illness or stress.  What I will say is that these women who did have documented COVID-19 infection seem to have a rather aggressive shedding experience.  Only time will tell if their recovery follows a similar pattern as most telogen effluviums, with shedding stopping after 3-6 months, followed by complete regrowth.

As with those of us, myself included, who have noticed increased shedding during this difficult time, I recommend that women with post COVID-19 shedding try to improve their diet with increased protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, take a good hair loss supplement like Lock Rx or Nutrafol, and be very gentle with their hair.  This means using less styling products which dry and damage hair, perhaps shampooing a little less often, and avoiding chemical treatments as much as possible.

If you think you are shedding as a result of stress or recent infection, we would be happy to see you, either in person or via video consult. It’s important to get a thorough evaluation and expert advice.  While we adhere to very strict COVID-19 precautions in the office, we know some of you just aren’t quite ready to venture out yet.

So, I hope you and your families stay safe, and enjoy the rest of your summer.  I know we will all get through this difficult time together.

Posted by Dr. Mary Wendel