Can COVID cause hair loss? Here's what the experts want you to know

Dermatologists weigh in on the worry "Can COVID cause hair loss?" and what to do if you think you've experienced this side effect

hair brush with strands on a pink background, meant to indicate hair loss; can covid cause hair loss
(Image credit: Getty Images/ Suparat Malipoom / EyeEm)

Yet another thing to worry about: can COVID cause hair loss? Excess strands are becoming tangled in combs and clumps are making their way onto bathroom floors, in turn causing women to worry about the virus' side effects. 

As if the pandemic hasn't been taxing enough—along with aging our brains and changing our friendships and questions about masks and the Delta variant, you might recall 'Can the COVID vaccine delay your period' was a hot topic for menstruators in 2021—it appears COVID-19 is now making us worry about our hair health, too. 

Although there is still a lot to uncover, we'll tell you everything hair experts want you to know about your locks. 

Can COVID cause hair loss?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fevers are common causes for hair loss and considering many symptoms of coronavirus include high body temperatures, it's possible that those who have had COVID-19 might deal with thinning strands roughly two to three months after being diagnosed. 

However, COVID-19 itself is not technically the culprit. 

"It's not so much the virus affecting the hair follicle as it is the physiological stress on the body—it's the effect of anxiety and being sick," says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Doris Day

Dr. Day continues: "When you have any major physiological stress, that can cause your hair to shift from the growing phase to the resting phase [also called telogen, a three- to four-month phase when the hair follicle is completely at rest], and after that transition, it falls out and then it grows back."

So yes, what women are possibly experiencing is temporary. However professional consultation is always recommended for those who have concerns. 

hairbrush series on pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

COVID hair loss treatment: what can you do?

Stress hair loss in females is, you guessed it—stressful—and throwing an entire global pandemic into the mix makes matters seem more discouraging. But because it's, in fact, the virus' side effects that are causing thinning hair, it is not a typical hormonal or genetic issue.

Though many are quick to assume this recent phenomenon is hair loss, it is actually hair shedding—telogen effluvium—and a temporary disruption in our hair growth cycle. Roughly six to nine months after thinning, women will most likely be back on track.

In order to put minds at ease, professionals are recommending products featuring minoxidil, an FDA-approved ingredient that delivers oxygen, blood and nutrients to the hair follicles, promoting overall strength and growth.  

Dermstore, VIRTUE Flourish Minoxidil Foam 5 For Women 2.11 oz ($28)

Dermstore, VIRTUE Flourish Minoxidil Foam 5 For Women 2.11 oz ($28)

Dermstore, Keranique Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women - 2 Minoxidil Topical Solution ($25)

Dermstore, Keranique Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women - 2 Minoxidil Topical Solution ($25)

"We think it pushes hair to the growing phase and holds it there longer," Dr. Day says. "Try it for six months—you don't have to use it forever."

Of course, should this issue be persistent or alarming—or if you have questions about anti-thinning shampoos and the best shampoo bars to purchase—always consult a professional. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.