COVID-19 and Hair Loss
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- COVID-19 can cause hair loss in both women and men
- Hair loss is often noticeable months after the infection with the virus, and it may take up to 18 months for the hair thickness to return to its original state.
- Although hair loss due to COVID-19 doesn’t usually require any specific treatment, your doctor can prescribe some medications to help restore hair growth in prolonged and severe cases.
- Additional symptoms, such as a burning sensation or an itchy scalp combined with hair loss after COVID, may indicate other conditions.
Various studies suggest that COVID-19 can cause hair loss in women and men. This hair loss is often noticed over the entire scalp and only becomes visible months after the infection with the coronavirus. You may specifically detect this hair loss in the shower or when brushing your hair.
How can COVID-19 cause hair loss?
COVID and hair loss appear to be related to each other according to various studies. Especially in the period after COVID, you may experience noticeable hair loss, which can often be a diffuse hair loss that can cause your hair to look thinner than usual. 1
- The anagen phase, during which the hair fiber forms and grows
- The catagen phase, marked by a cease in growth
- The telogen phase, a resting phase of the hair cycle, during which the hair follicle is dormant and the hair sheds
- The kenogen phase, the stage between telogen and anagen, during which the hair follicle is empty. After this phase, the anagen phase starts again.
COVID and hair loss may be caused by hair shedding, which happens when the anagen phase of the hair cycle terminates early, and many hairs move into the telogen phase simultaneously. This state is also called telogen effluvium.
The cause of telogen effluvium may be fever and stress, as often seen with other viral infections as well. When you have COVID, the body produces proinflammatory cytokines to fight the infection. This process may cause the formation of tiny blood clots, which may diminish the blood supply to the hair follicles. The inflammation and the virus may cause tissue damage and subsequently may cause telogen effluvium as well. 3 4
How long does COVID-19 hair loss last?
The hair loss that results from COVID-19 usually appears 2 to 3 months after the infection. It can take 3 to 6 months before the hair returns to its original fullness. It’s also important to de-stress as much as possible, as stress may prolong the duration of hair loss and stall regrowth.
Is my hair loss due to COVID-19?
Studies suggest that hair loss is possible due to COVID-19, especially in the months following your recovery. However, knowing that other conditions may cause hair loss is important. Hair loss that occurs after COVID has been reported as hair shedding only. This means that you shouldn't experience other scalp symptoms such as a rash, white plaques, an itchy scalp, or a burning sensation. If you experience such symptoms or are unsure about the cause of your hair loss, then it's recommended to visit a dermatologist or general practitioner for advice and treatment. 3
COVID-19 and hair loss treatment
Hair loss due to COVID-19 usually doesn’t require any specific treatment. It’s a normal reaction of the body to shed hair after physical or emotional stress caused by the coronavirus. Acute telogen effluvium is self-limiting and usually ends within 3-6 months. The hair thickness may take up to 18 months to return to its original state. Suppose you are experiencing additional symptoms, such as a burning sensation or an itchy scalp combined with hair loss after COVID. In that case, the cause of your hair loss may lay elsewhere, and you should see a doctor. 3
People can manage COVID hair loss by using topical minoxidil, which is a solution that you should apply to the scalp, as studies have suggested that it may be beneficial. However, further research is required to confirm this. You should always consult with your doctor before using minoxidil as a treatment method. 5
Hair loss is a normal consequence of a viral infection or a stressful situation. The connection between COVID-19 and hair loss in females and males is still under examination, but many studies suggest a correlation. Luckily, hair shedding due to COVID-19 usually stops after 3 - 6 months without any specific treatment.
Q: Does COVID cause hair loss?
A: Yes, COVID and hair loss can be related. There’s evidence that fever, stress, and inflammation caused by COVID can result in hair loss.
Q: How can you stop hair loss after COVID?
A: While there’s no way to stop hair loss from happening, it may be comforting to know that hair loss after COVID is not permanent, and the hair should grow back.
Q: Does COVID make women's hair fall out?
A: Studies have shown that COVID-19 can cause hair loss in both women and men.
Q: How long does COVID hair loss last?
A: If your hair loss is due to COVID-19, it should regrow within a few months. After 3 - 6 months, your hair should return to its original density.
Q: How to treat post-COVID-19 hair loss?
A: The hair loss caused by COVID-19 is usually self-limiting and stops independently without any specific treatment. However, de-stressing as much as possible may help to shorten hair loss and promote regrowth. In some cases, a topical, such as minoxidil, may be used as a treatment method.