The NHS currently lists the main symptoms of COVID-19 as having a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. However, some have attributed hair loss to a COVID-19 infection. Is there a link between hair loss and the novel coronavirus?
There’s currently no evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus itself directly causes hair loss.
Instead, it’s believed that the physical and emotional stress that accompanies a case of COVID-19 can lead to a reversible hair loss condition called telogen effluvium.
In addition, many people who are not infected with COVID-19 have also been experiencing hair loss as a result of stressors from the pandemic such as job loss, losing loved ones and uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.
Telogen effluvium – trauma or stress-induced hair loss – is a result of fluctuating hormones sending the hair growth cycle into a state of shock, forcing the hair to go into a resting phase.
What is telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is the name for a common cause of temporary hair loss due to the excessive shedding of resting or telogen hair after some shock to the system, explained DermNet NZ.
The site added: “New hair continues to grow.
“Telogen hair is also known as a club hair due to the shape of the root.
“It should be distinguished from anagen effluvium, in which the hair shedding is due to interruption of active or anagen hair growth by drugs, toxins or inflammation.
“If there is some shock to the system, as many as 70 percent of the anagen hairs can be precipitated into telogen, thus reversing the usual ratio.”
Many follicles can be affected at the same time, which is why it may seem like a person is losing a significant amount of hair.
Typically, for example, people lose up to 100 hairs per day but telogen effluvium can cause around 300 strands to fall out – a noticeable difference.
It’s important to note, however, that this is usually only temporary, so a person’s best practice for reducing hair loss is by maintaining good habits with sleep, exercise and diet to keep stress levels down in the meantime.
Although perhaps easier said than done when lockdown measures continue to change and uncertainty around how long they will be imposed continue to cause undue anxiety and stress.