When Stacey Maravola’s hair began falling out in clumps two months after she examined constructive for Covid-19, she was not initially involved.
“I washed my hair in the future and I’m pulling handfuls upon handfuls. And I’m like, ‘Perhaps as a result of it was up in a scrunchie,’” Maravola, 44, of Leetsdale, Pennsylvania, mentioned.
However practically two months later, the hair loss has not stopped. Every time Maravola, a well being and life-style coach, shampoos her hair, fistfuls come out, getting tangled round her fingers and sticking to her legs as she showers.
“I’ve needed to restrict hair washes as a result of I’m terrified,” she mentioned. “I’m not a giant emotional individual, however I can let you know, this has modified me. I cry each single time I take a bathe.”
Maravola is one among many coronavirus survivors coping with dramatic hair loss, one thing that consultants say just isn’t solely surprising following a critical sickness — however may be jarring nonetheless.
“It’s upsetting, particularly for many who have gone by a big medical course of Covid, to then expertise this as properly,” mentioned Dr. Sara Hogan, a dermatologist and well being sciences medical teacher on the David Geffen Faculty of Drugs on the College of California, Los Angeles. “However oftentimes, sufferers, as soon as they’ve a analysis and so they perceive that usually this may get higher, they really feel higher.”
Sudden hair loss can occur after any worrying occasion, together with main surgical procedure and even an emotional stressor comparable to beginning a brand new job, Hogan mentioned. The pandemic seems to have led to a big uptick in people who find themselves seeing their hair thinning, she mentioned: Hogan used to see a median of three to 5 hair loss sufferers per week and now sees as much as seven a day.
Why extreme assaults to the physique or thoughts generally set off hair loss just isn’t solely understood. Within the majority of those instances, the affected person is identified with telogen effluvium, a short lived situation by which she or he sheds many extra hairs than the standard 100 or so that individuals lose in a day. Telogen effluvium normally begins about three to 6 months after the stressor has occurred, and in most sufferers, the issue will resolve inside 4 to 6 months, in response to Hogan. (In uncommon instances, unremitting stress can result in power shedding, she added.)
Researchers don’t imagine Covid-19 assaults the hair follicles, which means the hair loss is the physique’s response to the physiological and emotional stress that the illness precipitated, quite than a symptom of the illness itself. And plenty of hair loss sufferers that Hogan and different dermatologists are presently seeing have by no means had the coronavirus to start with.
“It’s simply all the opposite tolls of the pandemic which can be resulting in the hair loss,” comparable to monetary worries or grieving the dying of a member of the family, mentioned Dr. Lauren Kole, an assistant professor of dermatology on the College of Alabama at Birmingham Faculty of Drugs.
Hair loss following Covid-19 got here into the highlight in August when the actress and activist Alyssa Milano shared a startling video of the quantity of strands she was dropping when she brushed her hair.
“Thought I’d present you what #Covid19 does to your hair,” she wrote. “Please take this severely.”
Maravola was identified with the coronavirus on July 5, and had a fever for a few days, plus a headache and lack of urge for food. Whereas the sickness was pretty delicate, she has had a constellation of tolerating well being points since then, together with debilitating fatigue, joint ache and rashes.
Seeing her thick, black hair popping out in bunches was one of many extra upsetting developments.
In September, Maravola shared an image of her hair loss with a web-based assist group for so-called “lengthy haulers” — coronavirus survivors fighting lingering signs — and was stunned to obtain practically 200 feedback from others who mentioned they might relate.
“It was, for me, reassurance,” she mentioned. “I assumed, at first, I used to be going loopy.”
There are numerous therapies for telogen effluvium, together with dietary supplements and topical therapies like Rogaine, though some sufferers are hesitant to take Rogaine as a result of it can initially trigger hair to shed extra, Hogan mentioned.
Each she and Kole beneficial that anybody with new or worsening hair loss go to a board-certified dermatologist to rule out different causes, comparable to thyroid issues or unintended effects from medicines. A dermatologist also can decipher whether or not the hair loss is because of telogen effluvium or one thing else, comparable to alopecia areata, an autoimmune dysfunction.
Maravola mentioned connecting with different individuals who have gone by the identical factor has helped her to deal with her hair loss.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” she mentioned, her voice breaking. “It’s important to discover your assist system, whether or not it’s on Fb, or household and mates, as a result of it’s scary.”