Losing Hair Post Covid?
Don’t worry here at OC Hair Restoration we can diagnose your hair loss, help you strengthen and regrow it or restore through surgical means. Request a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Ken Williams today.
Covid-19 and hair loss
Patients recovering from COVID-19 infections are now seeking answers and treatment for their hair loss that may be related to a previous infection with the SARS virus, referred to as “covid hair loss.” The 2020-2022 pandemic has had negative health effects worldwide with loss of human life and other physiologic side effects on the body, ranging from serious to the other end of the spectrum with more benign clinical manifestations.
In late 2019, a novel coronavirus, subsequently named SARS‐CoV‐2 (COVID‐19), was first reported in Hubei province in China. Since it has been reported, this virus has caused a pandemic that is equivalent to the Spanish flu of the early 20th century.
Does Covid-19 cause hair loss?
In our office and the clinical experience of Dr. Williams, hair loss or hair shedding is being observed in a greater number of patients three to five months after experiencing an infection caused by the Covid-19 virus. This fact is validated in the medical literature by an increase in other reports of hair shedding after being exposed to the coronavirus.
Medical care and treatment by dedicated hair loss physicians helps patients better understand Covid-related hair loss. Dr. Williams can assist abd guide you on your way to recovery with medically approved and indicated treatments. You can book your consultation with Orange County Hair Restoration and r. Ken Williams by filling out our appointment request form.
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What causes post Covid Hair Loss
It is important to note that the mechanism of hair shedding is most likely not because the coronavirus is attacking the hair follicles. The mechanism is essentially a “shock” to the body, as described before called Telogen Effluvium. Fever and flu-like symptoms are very commonly associated with SARS-CoV-2 or any bacterial or viral pathogen. The infection sometimes causes hair follicles to complete their hair cycle early.
A few months after having a high fever or recovering from an illness, patients may see noticeable hair loss in general. In addition the coronavirus has been associated with a lot of stress and returning back to normal hair cycleing isn’t easy even after the pandemic is over or even surviving the infection. This brings an additional factor into the post covid hair loss.
Another potentially more somber correlation with the coronavirus, is the theoretical association with male pattern baldness and the androgen receptor responsible for androgenetic alopecia.
In the Journal American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Wambier notes the association of higher rates of androgenetic alopecia in the majority of patients hospitalized with Covid-19. In another study from Spain, Dr. Goren hypothesized his evolving clinical suspicions of androgen expression by noting the higher rates of COVID -19 infections in balding men.
Although the mechanism is complicated and still evolving, basically a protein called the transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2) activates the spike proteins on the virus and splits another protein called the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The hypothesis of androgen-mediated COVID-19 severity and male pattern baldness requires further epidemiologic validation in larger studies. Antiandrogen treatments may be indicated and theoretically may also provide prophylaxis of severe COVID-19.
From the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Volume 83(2): 680-682 August 2020, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2020.05.079
Although not conclusive, these early published studies are few, the observations of the high incidence of male pattern baldness in male patients that were infected by COVID-19 may suggest COVID-19 may indeed be the trigger for male pattern baldness.
Is Hair Loss a Side Effect of Covid?
The answer is not so simple and an evaluation by a hair loss specialist may be needed. There is a difference between hair loss and hair shedding. The good news is the loss of hair associated with short and long term side effects of a Covid infection is more likely to be classified as hair shedding, formally known as telogen effluvium. This condition is a temporary condition and hair regrowth should occur once the hair enters the growth anagen phase.
Shedding hair is part of our hair follicles’ normal life cycle. Every person sheds between 50-100 hairs every day.
Telogen effluvium or excessive hair shedding is caused by many factors and is a common condition seen and treated by primary care physicians, dermatologists, and hair restoration physicians. It also occurs as a result of severe infection, fever, physical or emotional trauma or shock, hospitalization, sepsis, pneumonia, or just about any severe health condition that negatively impacts human beings.
For patients there is good news is this type of hair shedding is temporary and usually reversible. Once properly diagnosed, patients can expect hair to grow back within 6-12 months after treating and managing their triggers or underlying conditions.
How To Stop Hair Loss from Covid
The diagnosis for Telogen Effluvium is typically made by a history and physical examination. When the diagnosis is uncertain or other coexisting hair loss disorders exist, a punch biopsy, dermatoscopy, hair pull test, and hair mass index should be considered and performed by a physician.
The current recommended treatment for Telogen Effluvium is primarily a “wait-and-see” approach. For a much more aggressive approach, Plasma Rich Platelet (PRP) therapy, and Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) are other medical management options may have a therapeutic impact on aesthetic improvement. The prognosis of getting your hair back is generally very good. The condition usually resolves typically in 6-9 months after the hair shedding occurs. The most important knowledge is that full recovery will require several months and keeping stress at a minimum is the key to success. In addition, consuming a nutrition rich and balanced diet supporting hair growth is equally important.
Learn more about PRP Therapy and LLLT Therapeutic options:
You will want to include foods rich in protein, vitamin D and iron. Tofu, soy beans, almonds, spinach are all good sources of protein and further the growth of hair. Vitamin D is in foods such as salmon, eggs and cheese and is important in maintaining a healthy immune system post COVID-19. Iron is found in many foods such as beans, lentils, spinach and almonds and is closely related to hair growth. In addition to food, there are many supplements that can help promote hair growth like biotin and zinc. Additionally your trusted physician might also recommend using a topical product such as minoxidil which can further increase hair growth. When you see short “baby” hairs poking out you’ll know you’re on the right track.
The eventual resolution of patients with Telogen Effluvium is common. That can’t be said of the potential association of male pattern baldness and the androgen receptor. If the theory is proven, the male hyperandrogenic genes might be associated with greater incidence of COVID-19 infections in male patients with hair loss. This may lead to an increased viral load and viral dissemination in the blood, and additional lung involvement and other complications. The curse of male pattern baldness may be worse than what we thought it was.
Find out how to restore your hair from Covid-19.
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