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More COVID sufferers reporting hair loss

This is a MedPage Today story.

Clinicians are seeing an inflow of sufferers experiencing an unsettling facet impact after COVID-19: losing their hair.

Dr. Brian Abittan, the director of pores and skin and hair rejuvenation at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, mentioned that he sees a number of sufferers every week who’ve reported hair loss after COVID-19.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get asked about it,” Abittan informed MedPage Today.

Although extra sufferers are clearly reporting the symptom after COVID, there is not sturdy information describing what number of sufferers expertise this phenomenon or what components put somebody in danger for it. While there are nonetheless many unanswered questions on COVID-related hair loss, consultants say the excellent news is that it seems to be momentary and clinicians ought to reassure sufferers that their hair will very seemingly develop again.

Some proof has proven that there’s an elevated danger of hair loss following COVID an infection. A examine printed in Nature Medicine final month discovered that hair loss was one of a wide range of symptoms that post-COVID sufferers reported to their major care physicians.

Patients with a historical past of COVID had been practically 4 occasions as prone to develop hair loss than those that weren’t contaminated, the researchers discovered.

Additionally, a examine within the Lancet journal estimated that 22% of patients who were hospitalized with COVID experienced hair loss after their sickness.

The most typical sort of hair loss seen in post-COVID sufferers is telogen effluvium.

“The assumption is that COVID-related hair loss is very similar to stress-related hair loss,” Abittan mentioned.

In this July 11, 2022, file photograph, individuals wait to take COVID-19 assessments at a pop-up testing website in New York.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters, FILE

Telogen effluvium happens when the expansion cycle of hair is disrupted, induced by traumas corresponding to surgical procedure, sickness, or any worrying life occasion, corresponding to transferring or a being pregnant. There are three phases that hair goes via throughout a development cycle: anagen, catagen and telogen.

Anagen is the lively development section, catagen is the transitional section, and telogen is the resting section — during which hair sheds.

Telogen effluvium happens when a bigger proportion of hairs on the scalp shift into this resting section, leading to shedding at the next charge. It’s regular for sufferers to lose about 100 hairs a day, Abittan mentioned.

But with telogen effluvium, sufferers may lose as much as 300, 500, and even 1,000 hairs every day, he added.

“A lot of times people don’t even notice that they shed,” Abittan mentioned. “But once they shed to a level where they notice, then they start to count every hair on their head.”

Hair might begin shedding as quickly as 2 or 3 months after an infection, mentioned Dr. Alexis Young, a dermatologist at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. That shedding may final for as much as six months, and it usually takes a few yr and a half for hair to develop again, she added.

There are a number of hypotheses about why an infection could also be inflicting hair loss in COVID sufferers, one in every of which being sufferers’ heightened state of irritation. Certain inflammatory markers, referred to as interleukins, change into elevated throughout COVID, which might be inflicting a untimely shifting of the hairs into the telogen section, Young mentioned.

Because telogen effluvium is triggered by stress on the physique, it might be that sufferers who had been hospitalized with COVID or positioned on a mechanical ventilator expertise extra shedding than sufferers with delicate instances, she added.

“The more severe cases are probably having more severe hair loss,” Young mentioned. However, she added that the causes of hair loss in sufferers with extreme COVID might be multifactorial, linked to the drugs they took or the procedures they underwent.

More analysis is required to grasp what places a affected person vulnerable to extra extreme hair shedding, Young acknowledged.

Other theories about what causes COVID-related hair loss embody a direct invasion of the virus into the hair follicles, which can interrupt the expansion cycle. Given that COVID causes blood clots, some have additionally raised the speculation that tiny microclots might intervene with the expansion cycle as properly.

PHOTO: In this June 6, 2022, file photo, a man is tested at a COVID-19 testing van as persons wait in Times Square in New York.

In this June 6, 2022, file photograph, a person is examined at a COVID-19 testing van as individuals wait in Times Square in New York.

View Press/Corbis through Getty Images, FILE

Abittan mentioned that to find out the most effective course of therapy, clinicians ought to consider sufferers to make sure there are not any different underlying causes of hair loss, corresponding to a thyroid challenge.

Once COVID-19 is decided as a probable explanation for telogen effluvium, there are some oral drugs and topical remedies — none of that are FDA-approved for COVID-linked hair loss — that sufferers might flip to. However, light combing and hair care practices might be best in permitting the hair to develop, Abittan mentioned.

Because telogen effluvium just isn’t a scarring course of, hair can — and certain will — develop again by itself, Young added. “There’s not really anything that can speed that along,” she mentioned.

Young advises her sufferers to eat a nutritious diet and attempt to cut back stress, which may worsen hair loss.

“The majority of people do, ultimately, grow their hair back,” Abittan mentioned. “It just takes time.”

There’s a broad vary of signs that sufferers with lengthy COVID can expertise, starting from coronary heart points to respiration issues and fatigue. Although hair loss might get misplaced within the combine with a few of these different signs, Abittan mentioned resolving the difficulty is essential for sufferers’ psychological well being and well-being.

“When somebody does experience hair loss, it can be quite dramatic, and concerning to the patient,” Abittan mentioned. “It definitely can take a toll on people.”

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