Patients recovering from COVID-19 are suffering hair loss, UW Health dermatologists say

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) ---  UW Health dermatologists are seeing increased cases of hair loss in patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

UW Health integrative dermatologist Dr. Apple Bodemer says it started in the summer of 2020 and increased as COVID-19 surged around Dane County in the fall, according to a news release.

“Prior to COVID-19, I was seeing two to four hair loss patients per month. Recently I have been seeing up to five or six a day,” said Bodemer. “The type of hair loss associated with the physical and emotional stress related to COVID-19 is called telogen effluvium.  Telogen effluvium commonly occurs after a physical or psychological stressor such as a heart attack, car accident, having a baby, loss of a loved one and recently COVID-19.”

Bodemer says when the body i sunder stress, hair growth is put on hold. Hair will regrow about four to six months later, and that is when hair loss happens.

However, there is good news. UW Health said hair loss means new hair is starting to grow within the follicle, pushing the old resting hair out. 

Bodemer said significant hair loss up to 50% is not uncommon. Hair will grow back in six to 12 months, but it doesn't make it any less upsetting for patients.

"In my practice, I talk to my patients about mindfulness, breath work and recommend supplements that help support the adrenal glands, so people are better able to handle the physical effects of stress,” Bodemer said. 

Rogaine is an option, but by the time it kicks in, hair might be growing back naturally at that point, according to Bodemer.

UW Health said if hair loss continues for six months or more, you should visit your doctor. Officials say telogen effluvium can also be caused by thyroid disease, iron deficiency, or other undiagnosed medical condition. 

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