Photo: James Day/ Gallery Stock
I started getting texts last year that started, “Hey, so I don’t know if this is just my imagination, but I think my hair is falling out?” around the middle of 2020. What started as a trickle, soon became discussion on TikTok. Alyssa Milano tweeted a video of her brushing her wet hair and pulling out little clumps, saying, “This is what COVID-19 does to your hair,” and it’s a frequent topic of discussion in Survivor Corps, a Facebook group for those who’ve recovered from COVID-19. In fact, hair shedding has become enough of an issue during the pandemic for the American Academy of Dermatology to put up a PSA about it.
Hair shedding is not a symptom of COVID, according to London-based dermatologist Dr. Sharon Belmo, who specializes in hair and scalp disorders. Instead, she said what people are most likely experiencing is a condition called telogen effluvium. While COVID seems to be triggering hair loss for some, Dr. Belmo explained it’s not anything unique to the virus that’s causing it. Instead, it is considered an aftereffect of a stressful event, like being sick with a nasty bug, or emotional stress, like losing a job or maybe just working a little bit too hard.
“You absolutely don’t have to catch COVID to suffer from this kind of hair loss and shedding,” said Dr. Belmo. “The turmoil of the last year or so has been enough to push people into all kinds of stress responses.”
Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist, concurred, adding that it’s thought to be the stress of a fever in particular that triggers COVID-related hair shedding. “Often with COVID-19, patients develop a fever, and several months later, they often observe greater hair shedding,” explained Dr. Hirsch. Aside from fever, Dr. Hirsch said that general illness and stress are considered to be the main triggers for telogen effluvium — and during a pandemic, you may have had all three.
Hair loss could be due to a condition called telogen effluvium, which isn’t rapid, overnight mass shedding that leaves obvious bald patches, but more of a generalized shed, with perhaps a …….