In fact, health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that he is concerned about “increasing evidence” that a “significant minority” have long-term health impacts after falling ill with Covid-19.
With former patients reporting everything from insomnia, to kidney disease, to strokes and chronic tiredness, the long-term effects seem to be hard to predict and seemingly affecting the entire body.
One of the more recent effects that has come to light is hair loss, with former patients noticing their hair had started to fall out in clumps, months after recovering from the illness. “I’ve seen a marked increase in hair shedding that started around June and is still carrying on,” says Mark Blake, trichologist at Mark Blake Trichology. “If a client has actually had Covid-19 he or she will almost certainly have hair loss around 6 weeks after catching the virus”.
According to Mark, it’s due to a condition known as telogen effluvium (TE), a form of temporary alopecia or hair loss caused by hormonal stress or severe systemic infections. The hair cycle has three main stages; anagen or growth phase, catagen or transitional phase and the telogen or resting phase.
As we learn more and more about Covid-19, the virus which brought the world to a standstill, it’s becoming clear that aside from the often debilitating immediate symptoms and potentially life-threatening complications, there are a number of worrying long term side effects that are only just beginning to reveal themselves.
At any time, a person on average has around 5-10% of their hair in the teleogen phase, which is when the hair shreds and falls out. However, someone with TE will have around 30% of their hair in the telogen phase, causing a noticeable increase in hair loss and the appearance of thinning.
While it sounds alarming, Mark assures that TE is usually temporary and that the hair cycle will return to normal within six months to one year. “The best way to help your hair is to make sure you are feeding your hair from within by eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of protein and vitamin C as iron needs vitamin C to help it absorb into the body,” he advises.
As well as TE, there’s also the increased stress than Covid-19 has caused, not just when it comes to health but also surrounding finances and not being able to see loved ones. “I usually find hair loss happens around 3 months after a stressful event or period of time and this can carry on until well after the causative factor is taken away,” says Mark.
Jane Mayhead, trichologist at The Private Clinic of Harley Street also cites stress as a common cause of increased hair loss. “Stress can have a big impact on hair loss and it is one of the many causes that can trigger an increase in hair shedding,’ she says. “I’d recommend massaging the scalp to help relaxation but avoiding heavy oils, as this can cause itchiness and more shedding.”