Another consequence of COVID-19: why those who have recovered lose their hair
Hair loss has become another consequence of the coronavirus infection: people who have undergone COVID-19 struggle with this problem for several months after the illness, writes USA Today.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recognize hair loss as a symptom of COVID-19, more than 27% of at least 1100 respondents in Survivor Corps' Facebook group reported it.
Dr. Michelle Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, says there has been an influx of patients seeking treatment for hair loss after she reopened her office during her release from quarantine.
“Patients literally came with packs of hair - it looked like there was hair from a whole head,” she said. "They all have similar stories: very high fever and the feeling that they have never been so sick in their entire life."
Doctors say hair loss may not be caused by the virus itself, but by the physical shock patients experience as they struggle with fever and other intense symptoms.
Telogen effluvium, or hair bud alopecia, is the medical term for this condition, which can be caused by surgery, serious physical injury, severe psychological stress, high fever, severe infection or other medical conditions, extreme weight loss, drastic changes in diet, dramatic hormonal iron deficiency or changes, according to information from Harvard Medical School.
According to Dr. Shilpy Hetharpal, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, this happens when the body experiences shock, causing the hair to go out of the growth phase into a resting phase, and then fall out after a couple of months.
This is why most COVID-19 patients tend to experience hair loss a couple of weeks or months after recovering from the initial shock, she said.
The patient can lose up to 50% of the hair due to this condition, however, this is temporary as the hair loss decreases over the next six months until the hair returns to its normal thickness.
Experts can't explain why some people fall out and others don't, but doctors speculate that some people may be genetically predisposed to the condition, Quetarpal said.
Although there are over-the-counter medications that can accelerate the growth phase, Ketarpal recommends that patients eat a well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of vitamins.
She also encourages hair loss patients to cope with stress, as this can exacerbate the problem.
“Hair is our identity, it's a huge part of our culture, and hair loss can cause a lot of stress,” said Ketarpal. "It can aggravate the problem and the whole situation."
There are no other symptoms of this condition - only hair loss. Therefore, if patients have crusts, peeling, inflammation, or spots on their head, experts urge them to consult a doctor, as this may indicate another problem.
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