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The COVID-19 hair loss connection

A wooden hairbrush with some strands of hair.

Oct. 15, 2021—Pulling your hair out over the pandemic isn't just a metaphor for some people. Stress or a serious illness like COVID-19 can trigger something called "hair shedding."

What's going on?

Normally, we shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day. But a serious illness like COVID-19 focuses the body's energy on getting healthy again. That switch can trigger more hair than usual to stop growing and fall out. As a result, about two to three months afterward, you may notice more loose strands on your pillow or as you wash or brush your hair.

Can it be something else?

If you haven't had COVID-19 or another serious illness or fever, there could be another cause, such as:

  • Emotional stress from the pandemic or other situations.
  • Giving birth.
  • Having surgery.
  • Losing 20 pounds or more.
  • Stopping some medications.

Will my hair grow back?

Luckily, hair shedding is temporary. Regrowth does take time. But most people grow back fuller hair within six to nine months. You'll know your hair is coming back to normal when you start seeing short hairs of the same length around your hairline.

Ongoing stress, however, can cause hair shedding to continue. So, to de-stress and take care of yourself, it may help to:

  • Rest.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Take a multivitamin daily.
  • Exercise moderately on a regular basis.

When should I see a doctor?

Check with a dermatologist if your hair hasn't returned to normal in six to nine months or if you have a rash, itchy scalp or burning. It's a good idea to find out if something else is going on.

Visit our Hair health topic center to learn about other ways to take care of your do.

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