Can COVID-19 cause hair loss?

Written by: Dr Bessam Farjo
Edited by: Karolyn Judge

The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are listed by the NHS as:


  • High temperature
  • New continuous cough
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.


Further to this, some people have connected hair loss to the condition. However, is it really a symptom of COVID-19? Or is the stress that so many people experienced over the pandemic the real cause?


Leading hair surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo, who’s also the founding director of the renowned Farjo Hair Institute in Manchester and London, clears up any confusion regarding those attributing hair loss as a result of coronavirus


Woman sat on her bed in the evening while brushing her hair and looking concerned


Can you give an example of COVID-related hair loss?

Actress Alyssa Milano, famed for her roles in hit TV shows Charmed and Melrose Place, posted a video on Twitter last year saying that she was experiencing hair loss as a result of coronavirus.


American day-time television programme The Dr Oz Show then hosted Milano, where she discussed having coronavirus and ongoing recovery. She spoke about some of the long-term effects of COVID on her health, including brain fog and what she determined as lingering hair loss.



Is COVID directly responsible for hair loss?

It’s important to say that, while the images may be startling, there’s currently little evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus directly causes hair loss itself. It’s considered that the physical and emotional stress which can accompany a COVID-19 case may lead to a reversible condition called telogen effluvium.     



Can you have hair loss without COVID symptoms?

There are many people who aren’t infected with COVID-19 who have also been experiencing hair loss. This is a result of the stressful conditions that they may have experienced throughout the pandemic such as:


  • Job loss
  • Losing loved ones
  • Uncertainties that have arisen from the pandemic.



What is telogen effluvium?

It is trauma or stress-induced hair loss which is the result of fluctuating hormones sending the hair-growth cycle into shock. This then forces the hair to go into a resting phase


It may seem like you’re losing a large amount of hair because many follicles can be affected at the same time. Typically, people can lose up to 100 hairs per day. However, telogen effluvium can cause around 300 strands to fall out and that’s a noticeable difference.



Can telogen effluvium be reversed?

It’s worth pointing out that telogen effluvium is usually only temporary. The best idea is to focus on upholding good habits with sleep, exercise and diet in order to keep stress levels down in the meantime. 


That can be easier said than done when lockdown measures continue to change. However, uncertainty around how long they will last continue to cause unexpected anxiety and stress.



Worried about your hair loss? Visit Dr Farjo and his team, who can talk you through your options, for expert advice. Arrange an appointment via his Top Doctors profile.

By Dr Bessam Farjo
Aesthetic medicine

Dr Bessam Farjo is the founding director of the renowned and award-winning Farjo Hair Institute in Manchester and London. After graduating from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1998, he founded Farjo Hair Institute in 1992. Since then, Dr Farjo has been delivering top-quality hair restoration for thousands of patients. He is considered one of the UK's leading hair loss experts and one of the world’s top hair transplant surgeons.

Dr Farjo is a Past President of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery and the British Association of Hair Restoration Surgery, and past Medical Director of the Institute of Trichologists. He is also an active researcher with current research projects in collaboration with the Universities of Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bradford and Durham. 

The Farjo Hair Institute is internationally known and receives thousands of patients every year from around the world. Having undergone a hair transplant himself, while training in hair surgery, Dr Farjo believes that his experience allows him to see the procedure from the patient's point of view.  Dr Farjo is committed to providing the highest quality of care and ensuring that each patients' hair restoration experience is the best it could possibly be.

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