A QUARTER of Covid patients suffer hair loss in the first six months after they were infected – and women are more at risk, a study found.
Researchers studying a range of long-term symptoms found 359 out of 1,655 patients hospitalised in Wuhan, China, suffered with hair loss.
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The findings, published in The Lancet, found that hair loss was a primary long-term symptom of Covid-19, alongside fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and joint pain.
The authors of the paperwho wanted to investigate the long-term effects of the virus say the symptoms remain "largely unclear".
The patients who were examined for this study had been discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital in Wuhan between January 7 and May 29, 2020 after suffering with Covid-19.
Six months later, they were interviewed again and presented with questionnaires that asked them about their symptoms and quality of life.
They also underwent physical examinations and a six-minute walking tests, as well as getting their blood tested.
63 per cent of the patients had experienced fatigue or muscle weakness, 26 per cent suffered with sleep difficulties, 23 per cent had anxiety or depression and 22 suffered from hair loss.
The NHS lists 14 symptoms of so-called long Covid, some of these include extreme tiredness, chest pain, difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety, pins and needles.
Hair loss is not included in that list.
A fever or illness can force more hairs into the shedding phase. Most people see noticeable hair shedding two to three months after having a fever or illness.
Findings also showed that 76 per cent of patients reported at least one symptom at six months after symptom onset, and the proportion was higher in women.
The authors wrote: "The aim of this study was to describe the long-term health consequences of patients with Covid-19 who have been discharged from hospital.
"To our knowledge, this is the largest cohort study with the longest follow-up duration assessing the health consequences of adult patients discharged from hospital recovering from Covid-19."
Dermatologists say the hair loss is a normal response to a stressful experience – like falling ill with a virus during a pandemic – and that the hair will grow back.
However, it could be linked to conditions like alopecia, which in some cases can be irreversible.
This follows an investigation published last summer by Dr Natalie Lambert from Indiana University School of Medicine.
After collecting 1,567 responses from an online survey for former Covid patients, she found that 423 people had experienced hair loss.
Hair loss was the 21st most common symptom from a list of 50.
Dr Lambert said: "While the impact of Covid-19 on the lungs and vascular system have received some media and medical attention, the results of this survey suggest that brain, whole body, eye, and skin symptoms are also frequent-occurring health problems for people recovering."
TOP 10 LONG COVID SYMPTOMS
The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences discovered a list of long Covid symptoms in their findings, published in The Lancet.
- Fatigue or muscle weakness – 63%
- Sleep difficulties: 26%
- Anxiety or depression: 23%
- Hair loss: 22%
- Smell disorder: 11%
- Palpitations: 9%
- Joint pain: 9%
- Decreased appetite: 8%
- Taste disorder: 7%
- Dizziness: 6%
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Covid-induced hair loss is due to telogen effluvium (TE) – a shedding condition caused by a disturbance in the hair growth cycle.
TE results in a high percentage of anagen follicles (follicles which are actively growing hair), going into their resting phase prematurely across the scalp.
TE lasts somewhere between six to nine months before hair returns to its normal thickness and appearance, it says.
"It happens when more hairs than normal enter the shedding (telogen) phase of the hair growth lifecycle at the same time,"AAD says.
"A fever or illness can force more hairs into the shedding phase. Most people see noticeable hair shedding two to three months after having a fever or illness."
The Belgravia Centre said 64 per cent of male patients and 38 per cent of women reported having long Covid symptoms.
Rali Bozhinova, superintdent trichologist at the Belgravia Centre said: "It's quite common for TE-related hair loss to present around three months after a period of severe trauma, illness or stress, which fits with our findings.
"The spike in diagnoses shows the extent of stress that the virus places on the body, not only causing temporary TE, but also potentially exacerbating other hair loss conditions which can have long lasting effects if left untreated."
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