Post-COVID hair loss is a surprisingly common occurrence and can affect an individual differently is duration and severity. COVID hair loss is generally considered to be in the form of a stress induced hair loss called Telogen Effluvium (TE). Telogen effluvium (TE) is a type of diffuse hair loss that occurs after a significant stressor. The stressor can be psychological, surgery, malnutrition, pregnancy, medications in addition to systemic illness. Most hair loss with traditional TE lasts anywhere from 3-6 months. COVID induced TE seems to have an average shorter duration of only 9 weeks. However, I have seen people struggling with this much longer.
Our hair goes thru natural shedding phases called the telogen phase. On average the telogen stage of dormancy occurs in about 5-10% of your hair follicles at a time. This is why we are always losing some hair. After COVID, studies are showing that as much as 30-50% can be in this phase. This is why there is a significant drop of hair post illness.
While simply saying stress is always part of the TE equation, with COVID there seems to be some other factors that should be considered. READ ON to learn 6 factors to consider in post-covid hair loss and ways to help your hair recover….
- 1. Nutrient deficiency – with any TE if you are deficient in nutrients it will be harder to grow hair and recover but since COVID seems to “use up” so many nutrients repletion becomes key. Biotin is just not enough. Hair also needs nutrients like B vitamins and other organs like the thyroid which gets dinged with COVID need to be supported, too. This is why something like Nutrafol makes sense or a really good mineral mix. Also check your ferritin, B12 and D level and optimize these levels.
- 2. Blood clots at the base of the hair follicle obstructing the blood supply. This is considered as one of the instigating factors of TE in some people post-COVID. I have seen and heard of many people with post-covid blood clots in other areas so it just makes sense this could happen with the hair, also. Since blood clots are not uncommon, I recommend that if you have had covid and are going to travel within a month of your illness to be on prophylactic aspirin (always take with food). Not sure if this should be a recommendation for hair loss so I will leave that decision up to you. If you start having hair shedding perhaps something that helps break up clots like nattokinase or Vitalzyme XE may help. I have not seen any studies on this but it does make sense to me to try.
- 3. Histamine release. I have long felt some of the most pronounced long-haul symptoms are related to the activated histamine system. There are studies using antihistamines in other hair growth issues not related to COVID because if this system is activated it can create more of an issue. Adding an anti-histamine like allegra or Zyrtec may be helpful.
- 4. Decreasing the inflammatory cascade. The release of the cytokines is also felt to be an instigator of TE. Products that help dampen that response may help for this reason. Working on this at the gut level can often be helpful. GI Balance by Xymogen is an example of a product that may help. In addition, I reach for a product called Endocalyx in these instances.
- 5. Hormone imbalance. The hormonal system gets hit hard with COVID. Menstrual cycles, thyroid and the adrenal system are examples of hormone systems that can struggle post-COVID. Taking a peek at these can help. Keep in mind high testosterone levels can contribute to more hair loss so if you are taking testosterone even if you have tolerated it in the past, it might just tip the balance toward more hair loss. Same thing with unbalanced thyroid hormones!
- 6. Work on stress. It is always alarming to see masses of hair in the drain of your shower however, hyperfocusing on this only makes it worse. Work on decreasing your stress levels and reassure yourself that this is usually temporary before panicking. Put some of these steps into place and if it persists and your hair isn’t starting to grow back within 3 months then take it to the next level.
I have used a variety of protocols for long-term hair loss post-covid which can include prescription topical spironolactone and other prescription topical solutions. Reach out if you are experiencing this.
To your health,