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Hair loss may be a symptom of COVID-19, study finds

Hair loss may be a newly discovered side effect of COVID-19, according to a recent study of individuals who experienced long-term symptoms.
More than 400 respondents reported hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19. /
More than 400 respondents reported hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19. /(MGN)
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 10:19 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/CBS) - Hair loss may be a newly discovered side effect of COVID-19, according to a recent study of individuals who experienced long-term symptoms.

Survivor Corps, a nonprofit movement that aims to educate COVID-19 survivors and connect them with resources for recovery, alongside Dr. Natalie Lambert from Indiana University School of Medicine conducted the study.

The survey was posted on the Survivor Corps Facebook page and asked COVID-19 survivors to share which symptoms they experienced. The study was based on the “reported experiences” of patients and is not a peer-reviewed scientific study.

Dr. Lambert collected more than 1,500 responses. Most espondents said they suffered from fatigue, muscle or body aches and shortness of breath. Many participants also reported difficulty concentrating or memory issues.

The researchers found that “long haulers’ COVID-19 symptoms are far more numerous than what is currently listed on the CDC’s website,” Lambert wrote.

More than 400 respondents reported experiencing hair loss.

“Attention needs to be given to symptoms experienced by long haulers in additional parts of the body including the brain, whole body, joints, hair, skin and eyes,” the researchers said in a press release.

In all, the survey listed 98 symptoms, including lesser-known issues like weight gain, clogged ears, dry eyes and rash, which do not appear on the CDC’s official list of COVID-19 symptoms.

Many individuals took to the Survivor Corps Facebook group to post about their battle with hair loss after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

In July, one woman posted that ever since she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, her hair had been falling out in "massive clumps!"

“My hair is so thin and looks like there isn’t an end in sight to this hair shedding,” she wrote.

Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, said there have been an increased number of reports of hair loss from COVID-19 patients.

“We are seeing patients who had COVID-19 two to three months ago and are now experiencing hair loss. I think the timing is really crucial,” Dr. Khetarpal said in a Cleveland Clinic report.

According to Cleveland Clinic, a phenomenon called telogen effluvium is to blame. It is a form of non-scarring hair loss that results from an abnormal shift in follicular cycling.

“Essentially, it is a temporary hair loss from excessive shedding due to a shock to the system,” Khetarpal said. “There are several common triggers, such as surgery, major physical or psychological trauma, any kind of infection or high fever, extreme weight loss or a change in diet.”

Khetarpal adds that people who have not tested positive for COVID-19 could also experience hair loss during the pandemic due to stress.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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