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Hair loss may be long-term side effect from coronavirus

Rising number of coronavirus survivors are losing their hair
Covid-19 survivor Grace Dudley, 30, was forced to shave her head after waking up with ‘huge clumps’ on her pillow (Picture: Grace Dudley)

A rising number of coronavirus survivors are losing their hair, a clinic has warned.

Specialists say they have noticed a surge in telogen effluvium (TE) – a form of temporary hair loss that normally occurs after stress, a shock, or a traumatic event – among former Covid-19 patients.

Following a six-week study, they have revealed that nearly two thirds (64%) of male patients and over a third of females (38%) have been diagnosed with TE after experiencing virus symptoms – suggesting there is a connection between coronavirus and hair loss eight to 16 weeks after sickness hits.

Meanwhile, one online survey of 1,500 people reportedly suggests that more than a quarter of survivors experience some hair loss, with dozens of people sharing pictures of their scalps on online survivor communities and social media.

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Grace Dudley, 30, from Romford, Essex, told Metro.co.uk she shaved her head after waking up with ‘huge clumps on my pillow’, a month after spending a fortnight in hospital with Covid-19.

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A trichologist has since said they believe her body had been so close to death, it began to ‘shut down’ follicles on her head in order to conserve energy for other essential functions.

The mother-of-one, whose dad and ‘best friend’ Graham, 65, died of multiple organ failure caused by Covid-19 two days after she left hospital, said: ‘A lot of people are losing their hair and not understanding why it’s happening.

More than a month after she was discharged, Grace, a make-up artist, began to notice her hair falling out in large clumps, seemingly without reason. Pictured: bald patches on Grace's head / CASE STUDY: Grace Dudley, 30, revealed how she is now wearing a wig after suffering extensive hair loss triggered by coronavirus
Bald patches on Grace’s head (Picture: Grace Dudley)
Pictured, clumps of Grace's hair that have fallen out. She estimates she lost 55 per cent of her hair / CASE STUDY: Grace Dudley, 30, revealed how she is now wearing a wig after suffering extensive hair loss triggered by coronavirus
Clumps of Grace’s hair that fell out (Picture: Grace Dudley)
Leading hair loss clinic reports a link between Covid-19 symptoms and a rise in patients whose locks are falling out in clumps - as one survivor shaves her head after being left partially bald Belgravia Centre noticed uplift in cases of shedding condition telogen effluvium London clinic formally recorded findings over 6 week period in June and July Higher percentage of TE cases seen eight to 16 weeks after Covid-19 symptoms Grace Dudley, 30, from Romford, shaved her head after hair began falling out in clumps following her battle with coronavirus which saw her hospitalised
Grace Dudley, 30, has described dad Graham as the ‘kindest person I’ve ever known’ after he died with coronavirus (Picture: Grace Dudley)

‘Some people don’t get it much, but for me, it was a matter of “it’s all going to go”.’

After struggling with her new look, Grace is now encouraging others to speak out about the lesser-known suspected side-effect and has raised more than £1,300 for the Little Princess Trust.

Another survivor known as Ms O’Connell has described her hair loss as ‘unbelievable’, with her ponytail reportedly ‘halving in size’ three months after a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis in March. 

She told Femail: ‘It wasn’t just a strand here and there, I started to realise my hair was everywhere – all over the bed sheets and shower.’

What other long-term coronavirus effects have been reported?

Thousands of coronavirus survivors have reported long-term effects from the illness.

While there is limited research in this area, a recent Covid-19 Symptom Study found some people continue to experience fatigue, headaches, coughs, lost sense of smell, sore throats, delirium, and chest pain weeks or months after falling sick.

Sufferers who were not hospitalised named breathing problems and extreme fatigue as their main problems in June.

Speaking to the Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, they said changes in mood, anxiety and depression were also troubling them.

Meanwhile, an ICU doctor revealed last month that he was still experiencing breathlessness, blurred vision and a high temperature 12 weeks after being diagnosed.

Mother-of-three Laura Wood also recently claimed she still hadn’t regained her sense of taste and smell two months after recovering from the virus.

Rali Bozhinova, superintendent trichologist at the Belgravia Centre, said she is currently treating multiple patients who had coronavirus symptoms in March and expects the trend to continue ‘for some time in the wake of the virus’.

She said: ‘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.’

TE, which can aggravate a number of existing or underlying conditions, rarely lasts longer than six months and any person who suffers with it for longer would be considered chronic.

Experts say it is difficult to decipher a single cause for the condition, with other potential causes including medication, dietary deficiencies, other illness, severe stress, pregnancy or bereavement.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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