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Is hair loss a symptom of COVID-19?

The NHS currently lists the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. However, some have attributed hair loss to the condition, but is this really the case?

One notable example is that of actress Alyssa Milano, known for her roles in hit TV shows Charmed and Melrose Place. She recently took to Twitter, posting a candid video revealing that she was experiencing hair loss as a result of coronavirus.

Later appearing on the Dr Oz Show to discuss her battle with coronavirus and ongoing recovery, she detailed some of the long-term effects it has had on her health, which included brain fog and what she classed as lingering hair loss.

Although the images are startling, there’s currently no evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus itself directly causes hair loss. Instead, it’s believed that the physical and emotional stress that accompanies a case of COVID-19 can lead to a reversible hair loss condition called telogen effluvium.

In addition, many people who are not infected with COVID-19 have also been experiencing hair loss as a result of stressors from the pandemic such as job loss, losing loved ones and uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.

Telogen effluvium – trauma or stress-induced hair loss – is a result of fluctuating hormones sending the hair growth cycle into a state of shock, forcing the hair to go into a resting phase.

Many follicles can be affected at the same time, which is why it may seem like you’re losing a significant amount of hair. Typically, for example, people lose up to 100 hairs per day but telogen effluvium can cause around 300 strands to fall out – a noticeable difference.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that this is usually only temporary, so it’s best to focus on maintaining good habits with sleep, exercise and diet to keep stress levels down in the meantime. Although, that’s easier said than done when lockdown measures continue to change and uncertainty around how long they will be imposed continue to cause undue anxiety and stress.

If you’re worried about your hair loss and want some expert advice, our team are happy to talk through your options.

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