COVID hair loss: is it real?

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Gina Allegretti, MD 

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Gina Allegretti, MD 

last updated: Mar 13, 2024

3 min read

Does COVID cause hair loss? Research points to yes, but the answer is a little more complicated. Hair loss following COVID-19 could be caused by inflammation or the stress that comes with contracting the virus. The good news is that while hair loss medications like Rogaine don’t usually help with COVID hair loss, the issue will likely resolve itself in 3-6 months.

We know that COVID might cause hair loss, but why does it happen and what can you expect as your hair grows back? Continue reading to learn what the research has to say about this unexpected symptom of COVID-19.


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Does COVID cause hair loss?

Yes, COVID can cause hair loss. As COVID-19 began to spread in 2020, healthcare providers noticed that a significant portion of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 also had what they referred to in the research as androgenetic alopecia (also known as male or female pattern baldness). 

One large review found that approximately 25% of COVID patients experienced increased hair loss for weeks or months after developing symptoms, and that women were at higher risk for COVID-related hair loss than men. 

And the hair loss doesn’t seem to be limited to severe cases of COVID. Even people with milder cases of COVID were affected. Hair loss was a common symptom seen in people with COVID who weren’t hospitalized. But what causes this unwanted side effect? 

Why does COVID cause hair loss? 

Research is limited, so we don’t know exactly why COVID can cause hair loss. However, there are several theories as to how COVID leads to hair loss, including theories related to inflammation, stress, and hormonal changes. 

Inflammation and hair loss

Inflammation is responsible for many COVID complications, such as lung damage. But is it responsible for hair loss, too? In a small study of 10 people with COVID-19 and hair loss, researchers found that the start of the hair loss was associated with the severity of symptoms like high fever. 

They also found that the hair loss looked different from androgenetic alopecia (AGA)—which occurs mostly along the hairline and affects hair that's in its growth phase—and more closely resembled telogen effluvium (TE), or hair shedding that is common after pregnancy or after severe stress. TE is a temporary condition that pushes your hair into a “resting phase” in which the hairs stop growing and fall out. It’s normal to lose 50-100 hairs a day, but TE is characterized by more than typical shedding. This can happen if a person experiences a shock to their system, and can cause huge numbers of hair to fall out at once from all over the scalp. 

Stress and hair loss

It’s pretty common to experience hair loss after extreme physical or emotional stress. Sometimes, it occurs weeks or even months later. In one small study, researchers found that people with COVID developed TE up to three months after COVID symptoms started. Hair growth improved within six months, which is consistent with TE, since it resolves when the stressful event passes. 

A web survey found that the stress of pandemic conditions themselves may even contribute to hair loss. Almost a third of people who didn’t have COVID but quarantined at home reported excessive hair loss.

Can you stop hair loss from COVID? 

People who develop hair loss after infections, inflammatory disease, or stress see hair regrowth when the underlying cause is treated or has resolved, which holds true for COVID-related hair loss, as well. Several studies found that post-COVID hair loss improved on its own, usually within 3–6 months after the initial infection resolved. 

In one study, dermatologists treated some people with topical minoxidil (Rogaine), but there was no evidence that it reversed their COVID-related hair loss. The only thing that really seemed to do the trick was time. 

In the meantime, since TE may be triggered by stress, taking care of yourself may help alleviate the severity of your symptoms and help decrease your stress levels. Practicing mindfulness, engaging in exercise, and eating nutritious foods are helpful ways to relax and take care of your overall wellness. 

If you are experiencing COVID-related hair loss, the good news is that it’s probably not permanent. Hair loss from COVID usually clears up on its own after a few months. If you are uncertain whether COVID is the source of your hair loss, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

March 13, 2024

Written by

Gina Allegretti, MD

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD

About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.