When it comes to COVID-19, the list of associated symptoms seems to grow longer with each new strain. By now, we're all well-versed in classic COVID symptoms that seem to never change: dry cough, fever, fatigue and shortness of breath. But one of the more curious additions to the list is hair loss and thinning. Studies suggest that telogen effluvium (TE), a type of temporary hair loss, is a common symptom of COVID infection. With TE, the hair follicles enter a resting phase, which can result in shedding large clumps of hair, thinning hair and slower regrowth. It may happen several weeks or months after contracting the virus and can last several months. However, one board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Amy Forman Taub, tells us, “worsening of genetic hair loss also occurs.”
Does COVID hair loss affect men and women?
Yes, COVID-related hair loss can occur in both men and women.
To further understand the correlation between Covid and TE, a recent study followed 806 participants diagnosed with COVID, and found over half (52.7%) experienced hair loss. A further breakdown of those who experienced TE found that age, gender (females appear to experience a higher level of COVID-induced TE), high temperature, and the presence of hair loss prior to infection significantly contributed to the severity of hair thinning and loss.
Can you stop Covid hair loss?
While hair loss isn’t an inevitable result of the virus, and many people recover without any signs of TE, if you are experiencing COVID-induced hair loss, you have plenty of options for restoring your hair's health.
With a market flooded with hair-growth products, we wanted to get to the bottom of what the best treatments for reversing COVID hair loss would be. We tasked our research team with finding the best products for thinning and shedding hair, then talked with nine board-certified dermatologists to ensure we chose the top products with the best key ingredients. Here are a few proven products we found to help reverse the effects of COVID hair loss.
The best hair growth products to help with COVID hair loss
What should I look for in hair regrowth products?
The following are some of the most important factors to consider when selecting hair growth products:
Ingredients: Certain ingredients, such as biotin, saw palmetto, peptides, zinc and vitamin B3 can help promote hair regrowth. Minoxidil, an over-the-counter hair loss treatment, is also often recommended for regrowth. Finasteride is also available via a prescription from your provider.
Budget: You may need to use a product for several months before noticing results (usually 2 to 6 months), so it’s crucial to find one that fits your long-term budget. Consider the price versus how long you need to use the product for the best results.
Genetic formulations: Some products are specifically formulated for safety for men and women based on the science of genetics. These formulations may target different areas of the scalp and hair follicles, and have stronger solutions, so they work better for a specific gender.
Scalp type: Products with different levels of antioxidants, moisturizers or other ingredients can relieve more sensitive scalps. Always test a product on a small patch of skin to ensure it doesn't irritate your skin.
How we evaluated the best products for COVID hair loss
We started our search by talking with six board-certified dermatologists, trich ologist and a plastic sergeon to better understand which key ingredients to look for, which brands are the best, and any things we should avoid. Using the experts' advice, our team researched dozens of hair regrowth products and treatments to identify the best of the best to help with COVID-hair loss. We considered various factors, including ingredients, effectiveness, user reviews, cost, brand reputation and more.
For products whose effectiveness was backed by clinical trials, we considered the results of those studies when making our final decisions. We also looked for products free of parabens, sulfates and other toxic ingredients that can cause scalp irritation. Ultimately, we chose products that are the most effective, affordable and safe to use.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best way to treat COVID hair loss?
The good news is that if you do nothing at all, your hair and scalp health are likely to improve within about 6 to 9 months without treatment. You can also make small adjustments to your hair care routine to help improve your hair quality and support faster regrowth, such as avoiding harsh products and heat-styling (think straighteners, curling irons and styling wands) that could further damage the hair and scalp. Also, avoid excess stress, which can trigger hair loss. If you want to be more aggressive and give your hair a jump-start on regrowth, hair regrowth treatments are a great option, such as topical steroids, minoxidil, finasteride, vitamins and supplements, serums and oils and light therapy.
What does COVID hair loss look like?
COVID hair loss looks different from person to person, but the most common symptom is thinning hair or bald patches in areas of the scalp that usually have more dense growth. Your hair may come out in small clusters while shampooing, blow-drying or brushing. You may also notice increased shedding while styling or removing tight hair ties.
How long does it take to reverse COVID hair loss?
Everyone is different, and the amount of time it takes to reverse COVID hair loss depends on how severe your hair loss is. However, with a consistent routine, including good nutrition, regular shampooing and conditioning with specialized products for damaged hair, and treatments like scalp massages and oil applications, you should start seeing initial signs of improvement in as little as 1 to 3 months.
How long until I see results from hair regrowth products in general?
It could take 3 to 6 months or more to see the full benefits of hair regrowth treatments. Your best bet is to tailor your hair care routine to your hair type and avoid using harmful products. Heat can also damage your hair, so limit the number of styling tools you use and opt for natural, air-dry styles instead.
Meet our experts
Amy Forman Taub, MD, FAAD, Board-certified dermatologist
Michelle Henry, MD, Board-certified dermatologist and Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon
Glenn Vallecillos, MD, Board-certified plastic surgeon
Jose Diego Mier, MD, Board-certified dermatologist
Jake Woods, MD, Board-certified dermatologist
Andy Goren, Board-certified dermatologist, trichologist and professor