This I Have Learned: A Hair-Raising/Losing Issue …

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

It stealthily crept, like a low-lying fog, into countries around the world, leaving behind grieving family members. If a person was lucky enough to survive from it, he/she might be left with residual health issues or from complications to one degree or another.

In the 20th year of the 21st century, the scourge of COVID became the most vile and dreaded disease on our planet. In the United States alone, there have been 104,427,723 documented COVID cases and 1,135,713 deaths to date through Jan. 28, 2023. (

According to the Mayo Clinic website, “Research suggests that between one month and one year after having COVID-19, 1 in 5 people ages 18 to 64 has at least one medical condition that might be due to COVID-19. Among people ages 65 and older, 1 in 4 has at least one medical condition that might be due to COVID-19.” (

An underreported, but still, a side-effect of COVID is hair loss.

On Jan. 8, 2023, NPR Weekend Edition addressed this topic with a program titled “Why COVID-19 Causes Hair Loss—and How to Cope.” Guest speaker Dr. Paradi Mirmirani, a dermatologist who specializes in hair disorders, stated, “People with COVID-19 have suffered from a number of symptoms, like fatigue and loss of smell. (Also) one alarming side effect is losing your hair. Studies show that up to 30% of those who had a severe case of COVID-19 experienced temporary hair loss.”

On Sept. 30, 2022, The New York Times published an article titled “What to Do If You’re Experiencing Hair Loss After COVID.” The article indicated that many dermatologists believe the stress hormone cortisol may play a role.

Dr. Luis Garza, Professor of Dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, states, “COVID-19 has been a double whammy for many people, with the mental stress of living through a pandemic accompanying the physical stress of the illness itself.”

The New York Times article also suggests for you see your primary care physician as a first step to determine the condition of one’s hair. A doctor will take your medical history, order some blood work, and most likely perform a hair-pull test in which they grasp small sections of hair from different parts of your scalp and tug very gently. If six or more strands fall out without resistance, it is a positive indicator of active loss. In some cases, your doctor may also order a biopsy to examine your hair follicles.

Other options if you experience hair loss, post-COVID:

* See a dermatologist

* Make dietary changes

Regarding one’s diet (when recovering from an illness), “It is important to consume a healthy diet,” states Nancy Teeter, registered dietitian and SaddleBrooke resident. Teeter recommends a plant-based diet of beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and healthy fats. Also, a diet replete with nonstarchy vegetables should be the foundation of your diet. In addition, consider adding fatty fish, unsweetened yogurt, and moderate amounts of lean protein. As an aside, taking time for daily mindfulness will help you handle stress, according to Teeter.

Additional Readings: