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Long haulers battling hair loss due to COVID; North Texas doctors working on treatments

A month after her COVID diagnosis, 43-year-old Adriana Cesar noticed clumps of hair falling out.

DALLAS — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of Americans have been infected by coronavirus. 

Long-term side effects are wide-ranging and, in some cases, devastating. 

One common complaint from long haulers is hair loss. 

"I didn't lose taste or smell, it just really affected my body," said Adriana Cesar, who tested positive for COVID at the beginning of 2022. 

"I was very weak," she said. 

A month after her diagnosis, the 43-year-old noticed clumps of hair falling out.

"You saw it coming out... you brush it, it's there. You shower, it's there. And you know, it's a little traumatic too!"

The medical term for this, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is telogen effluvium: excessive shedding after a stressful event, including high fever or illness that included high fever. 

"The stress doesn't help either," said Cesar.  

Desperate for a solution, Cesar met with dermatologists and eventually began scalp treatments with Dr. Joe Cleaver at OhZone Clinics in Dallas. 

"There's inflammation ongoing in the scalp... and we start losing more hair that we can replace," explained Cleaver.  

Cleaver injected natural anti-inflammatory compounds into Cesar's scalp. 

"And within a short period of time, usually within four weeks, the rapid hair loss starts to... slow down," he said. 

The treatment is not FDA approved. It's still too early for that. 

So far, studies on COVID and hair shedding show hair loss comes about two months post-infection, but it's temporary and on average it takes two to three months to recover. 

For long COVID patients, chronic excessive shedding can continue until your body's immune system, hormones and stress levels are back in balance. 

Cleaver added that it will take two to three treatments spaced four to six weeks apart, plus an at-home regimen for Cesar to start to fully regain what she's lost. 

"We're fighting off a very significant virus and that takes a lot of our minerals and vitamins," said Cleaver. 

It's a process guided by patience. 

"It's coming, but it's a process," acknowledged Cesar. 

For more information on hair loss and COVID-19, click here

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