Okay, folks. We see this question a lot, and it recently came up on Reddit again. So, it is time for us to dispel the myths, questions, and concerns around hair loss after becoming infected with COVID-19. Indeed, millions have contracted COVID-19, and we are still learning about the effects of this virus that can show up weeks and even months down the road. Of course, the jury is still out on whether or not residual effects of the disease will last years. But, for those who have struggled with thinning hair after COVID, we are here to tell you that it is par for the course after any infection, especially a severe one.
Why Does COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?
People who contract any infection are at risk for hair loss. Why? Because an infection places your body under a lot of stress. It pulls resources away from non-vital tissues in your body (like your hair) so that it can mount a strong defense against pathogens that mean to cause harm to you.
When we get a viral infection, our immune system sends out specialty cells to try and fight the disease. Viruses are unique because they invade the cells of the host (us), and we cannot see inside these cells. However, our cells will release proteins called interferons that provide information about the virus to be read by specific cells called T cells in our immune system. Based on the information from these proteins, our immune system then sends in cytotoxic T cells to destroy the infected cells. Along with destroying infected cells, the body also mounts other responses such as fevers to help suppress the virus. As you are probably putting together, fighting a virus takes a lot of energy, and the associated symptoms of the virus can be exhausting. Thus, there are not a lot of additional resources to keep the hair growth cycle undisrupted.
Why Is Hair Loss Lasting Over 7 Months?
Likely, you didn’t lose your hair right away. The leading cause of hair loss after an infection like COVID-19 is from telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition that usually starts around three months after the infection. In general, telogen effluvium can occur after any particularly stressful event like illness, surgery, grief, childbirth, trauma, and major life changes. Most people will experience telogen effluvium at some point in their lives, and fortunately, your hair will likely return to normal thickness.
Telogen effluvium doesn’t just happen at three months, and then it is over. In fact, it can occur for over several months, which can lead to more and more thinning. Some people find their hair stays thin for nearly 12 months after the stressor occurred. However, if you can decrease stress in your life and adopt some healthy lifestyle habits, you likely can put a stop on the shedding after a few months have passed. And just for a bit of perspective, women who give birth often start having hair loss between 3-6 months after birth and don’t see their hair start to improve until their baby is at least one year old.
Under normal circumstances, people lose anywhere between 50 and 100 hairs a day. However, in telogen effluvium, it is not uncommon to lose around 300 strands per day. As a result, you may find shedding everywhere, including your bed linens, shower drain, shirts, floor, etc. Hair loss of this magnitude can be particularly alarming. While this condition is normal and temporary, you may want to see your dermatologist to see if you should consider some hair regrowth solutions in the meantime.
How Can I Get My Hair Back After a COVID-19 Infection?
We touched on making some lifestyle changes above. But, to be more clear, you will want to make some of the following changes.
- Eat a nutritious diet - Hair needs plenty of protein, iron, and healthy vitamins found in fruits and vegetables. Try to increase your intake of wholesome, healthy foods and cut out foods that may trigger inflammation.
- Get plenty of exercise - Daily physical activity helps increase circulation to your periphery, including your scalp. Exercise after being infected with COVID can be challenging because many people have residual breathing problems. If you are struggling, make sure to check in with your doctor and take it easy on yourself by doing walking, stretching, swimming, or light strength training as tolerated.
- Get more sleep - Our bodies undergo significant reparative processes while we sleep, so the more you sleep, the more tissue healing you may encounter. Sleep is also good for your hair, as it means your body has more energy to allocate toward hair growth.
- Reduce stress - A lot of us are living in stressful times, and having the COVID virus can certainly increase your stress on top of everything else that may be going on in your life. Try to cut unnecessary stressors out as best as you can. Many of us could benefit from being more picky with where we put our energy, and making yourself a priority will have numerous benefits for your health (and hair).
Although it would be great if lifestyle changes were a cure-all, people often need a little extra support for hair regrowth after a severe case of telogen effluvium. When you start noticing hair loss, consider using a topical hair regrowth solution that contains Nanoxidil. This proprietary formula helps to open ion channels, stimulates follicles to grow, boosts blood flow, and is often blended with ingredients that block DHT (which can be problematic for people who also have androgenic alopecia).
Nanoxidil is a non-greasy, non-irritating formula that goes on affected areas of your scalp twice daily. If you have been struggling with hair loss after COVID-19 (whether you had the infection or not), try using Nanoxidil to help restore your hair to its original thickness and health. It is easy to order online and use at home, and it delivers incredible results.