Hair loss after Covid-19: common but reversible

Long-Covid patients particularly affected

A healthy person has around 100,000 hairs on the head. Genetic and hormonal factors, but also environmental conditions, age and infections, determine about a possible beginning hair loss. For example, some people experience massive hair loss a few months after a Covid 19 infection. However, this is usually reversible.

Up to 100 lost hairs per day normal
A hair naturally reaches the age of two to six years. As part of regeneration, the scalp sheds around 60-100 hairs a day, under unfavorable conditions even up to 200. Hair loss is only defined beyond the amount of 100 hairs a day. According to the current state of knowledge, in addition to the widespread genetic and hormonal hair loss causes, it can also be due to increased stress such as pregnancy, childbirth, extreme diets, major operations, accidents or to feverish infections such as flu or Covid-19.

Hair loss after viral infection in every fourth case
A lot of affected people find their hair keep falling out in clumps a few months after recovering from Covid-19. This is particularly happening in the context of long-Covid symptoms, which are characterized by long-term symptoms such as fatigue, limited performance, shortness of breath, mental problems or impaired organ functions. A study published in January 2021 by the journal The Lancet confirmed the same. According to this, 22% of virus patients in a Chinese hospital reported hair loss months later. However, not only the presence of an infection itself, but also emotional stress caused by infections, fear-inducing media reports or social distance are related to hair loss.

Hair loss only visible after weeks to months
Viral infections place a heavy burden on the body. It must concentrate all available energies on pathogen defense and healing processes. As a result, the hair can be separated from the blood supply and switch from the growth phase to the shedding phase (telogen phase). It's called telogen effluvium, where more hair than usual enters this condition. However, the hair remains in the increasingly detaching status for up to six months. Thus, the result – depending also on the severity of the disease - is usually coming up after the actual Covid disease: According to study author and dermatologist Alexis Young, hair loss typically begins a few weeks to three months after infection and lasts six up to nine months, although this can vary greatly from person to person. Some of the patients also complain of trichodynia. These are abnormal sensations in the area of the scalp, also known as burning scalp syndrome. Those affected are understandably alarmed in both cases. Hair loss occurs "due to overactive inflammation in the body," Young says. "The inflammation can cause a shift in the hair cycle."

New hair growth after the end of the load
The good news: The hair follicles are usually preserved, so that the hair grows back. Thus, like any telogen effluvium, covid-related hair loss is basically reversible. Therefore, the information and education of those affected makes an important contribution here - in contrast to medication. According to dermatologists, medication only make sense if the hair loss caused by an infection lasts longer than four to six months. However, the hair can still appear thin for a longer time. This is due to its growth of only about a centimeter per month. For example, shoulder-length hair can take up to two years or more to regain its fullness.

What can you do about hair loss due to infections?
Any action that supports the hair in its natural growth can be taken here. Substances that nourish the hair roots in particular can accelerate regeneration. Thymus peptides (Thymuskin), for example, has proven itself in such a case.