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‘Significant hair shedding’: Japanese dermatologists hyperlink hair loss to COVID-induced ‘cytokine storm’

In a letter to the Journal of Dermatology​, a group of dermatologists from Hamamatsu University School of Medicine and the Fujinomiya City General Hospital stated it’s probably that varied hair loss signs will emerge following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more patients may experience several types of hair loss. Careful observation of each hair loss symptom and appropriate diagnosis and treatment selection are important.

The researchers reported a case of post-COVID-19 spot balding and excessive hair shedding in a 47-year-old woman.

Three weeks after the patient was discharged from the hospital, where she was treated for high fever and severe pneumonia induced by COVID-19, she experienced alopecia areata (AA), also known as spot baldness.

The researchers hypothesised that hair loss could be attributed to the “overzealous cytokine production”​ related to the COVID-19 sickness.

“This cytokine storm can lead to other disorders, including several autoimmune diseases.IFN-α and IFN-γ are also crucial inducers of AA after viral infections… Of course, there is no direct way to prove that COVID-19 is the cause of AA, but IFN-γ dominant intracytoplasmic cytokine balance may indicate COVID-19-induced AA in our case.”

The researchers concluded: “In our case, the COVID-19-induced cytokine storm may have caused not only high fever and severe pneumonia but also a sudden switch from the anagen to the catagen phase, followed by the telogen phase.”

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