A Jackson physician specializing in hair restoration says COVID-19 can trigger significant hair loss in those recovering from the illness. In addition, many who were not infected have been stressed by the complications of the worldwide pandemic and are experiencing hair loss triggered by that stress.
Jackson plastic surgeon Michael Kanosky, MD, FACS said, “It is widely reported in the medical research literature that nearly 30 percent of patients recovering from COVID-19 describe substantial hair loss. Thousands of others are suffering from Telogen Effluvium, a condition that causes excessive hair shedding that is usually temporary or at least cyclical.”
Telogen Effluvium is described as excessive hair shedding after trauma. Dr. Kanosky said that the trauma can be an illness like the Coronavirus, or it can be triggered by stress. Then, there are two kinds of stress: physical stress like pregnancy or surgery, or emotional stress like the loss of a loved one.
Telogen Effluvium is generally considered to be the second most common type of hair loss after androgenic alopecia. “Most of us have 10-15% of scalp hairs in this Telogen or resting phase at any given time,” Dr. Kanosky said. “We all lose around 100 hairs a day as a part of the natural Telogen phase; but, someone suffering from Telogen Effluvium will see hair loss across the entire scalp.”
“At any given point,” Dr. Kanosky said, “80-90% of your hair should be in the anagen/growing phase.” However, he explained, “During and following an illness like the coronavirus, you could see a wider diffuse pattern of rapid hair loss all over the head. The hair follicles lost in this type of response can be at any stage of growth. “This is typically what we have seen in the past after a cancer patient has completed chemotherapy or radiation,” he said.
Researchers are recording an increase in the number of patients reporting hair loss after COVID infection. The Dermatology COVID-19 Registry is a database of more than 1,000 cases from 38 countries. The timing of an uptick can be predicted since most of those with Telogen Effluvium start to see hair loss about three months after the sentinel event which can be either the onset of the virus or the actual life event that caused excessive stress.
“Physicians across the state are seeing many more patients with Telogen Effluvium this year,” Dr. Kanosky said, “because everyone has been effected by the stress that has come with Coronavirus and quarantine.” The disruption of schedules, school routines and sports activities make many uncomfortable,” Dr. Kanosky said. “Some of us worry about catching coronavirus or get itchy trying to adjust to quarantine or get depressed dealing with a job loss or business shutdown. Without, our normal coping mechanisms like church services and gatherings with friends, these inconveniences become much larger stressors.” So, whether the hair loss is from a direct viral effect or the uncertainty of challenges we face because of the pandemic, “we can help you get your hair back at Mississippi Hair Restoration,” Dr. Kanosky said.
Patients should know that hair lost due to Telogen Effluvium is often transient and not necessarily permanently gone. “It will eventually move back into the growth cycle but it may take one to six months or more,” Dr. Kanosky said, “and there is no guarantee that the new growth will be the same color, texture or thickness that you are used to.” So far, research has shown that injections of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) into the scalp are likely to speed up the regrowth process and help produce stronger, thicker, more viable hair follicles. Dr. Kanosky performs PRP and other treatments to stimulate hair growth at Mississippi Hair Restoration in Ridgeland.
Dr. Michael Kanosky is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in hair re-growth, new follicular unit hair transplants, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy, Infrared Light Therapy and Bio-identical Hormone Optimization. Dr. Kanosky practices reconstructive, aesthetic and cosmetic plastic surgery at The Face & Body Center in Flowood, Mississippi.