Coronavirus survivors have revealed how they are suffering extensive hair loss triggered by the illness.
Among them is Grace Dudley, 30, a mother of one from Romford, Essex, who spent almost a fortnight in hospital after contracting Covid-19 from her father, who later died of multiple organ failure caused by the virus.
More than a month after she was discharged, Grace, a make-up artist, began to notice her hair falling out in large clumps, seemingly without reason.
'I woke up and noticed it was on my pillow and thought, "that's not good",' she said in an interview with FEMAIL. 'Every time I brushed my hair it was falling out and it's still happening. I've lost about 55 per cent of my hair every day and I'm losing more.'
Grace was told by an expert that her hair loss was linked to Covid-19. According to Grace, the trichologist said the severe hair loss had been triggered because the body had been so close to death that it had began to 'shut down' follicles on her head in a bid to conserve energy for essential functions.
Meanwhile, others have taken to Twitter to share their experiences of hair loss weeks and even months after the initial symptoms of Covid-19 have passed.
Eva Proudman, of the Institute of Trichologists, which specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the hair and scalp, told FEMAIL they could be experiencing telogen effluvium, a 'shedding' condition triggered by a number of potential factors.
Grace Dudley, 30, revealed how she is now wearing a wig after suffering extensive hair loss triggered by coronavirus. Pictured, Grace before her hair loss (left) and in her wig today (right)
Speaking to FEMAIL, Grace told how she was taken into hospital in mid-March by paramedics called to the family home to attend to her father, who had suffered symptoms for more than a week but had been advised against going into hospital. Pictured, Grace in hospital
Hair loss is one of the long term health problems reported by Covid-19 patients. Pictured, clumps of Grace's hair that have fallen out. She estimates she has lost 55% of her hair
More than a month after she was discharged, Grace, a make-up artist, began to notice her hair falling out in large clumps, seemingly without reason. Pictured, bald patches on Grace's head
Among them is a continuous high temperature like those experienced by some Covid-19 patients including Grace, who had a temperature of 40C (104F) when she was taken into hospital.
Eva said: 'Generally with a normal growing and shedding cycle for your hair, around 85 per cent of your hair is the growing phase with 15 per cent either resting, shedding or moving back to regrow.
'However with telogen effluvium this can effectively switch, leaving a very thin covering of hair on the head. Fortunately, with correct diagnosis and treatment, a good recovery can be obtained.'
Hair loss is one of the long term health problems reported by Covid-19 patients. Eva said she personally has seen seven people who have experienced shedding after a coronavirus diagnosis.
Campaigner Louise Barnes, of Suffolk, who founded the Post Covid Syndrome Support Group, estimated between 30 and 40 per cent of the group's 2,600 members has experienced hair loss, including herself.
Doctor Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor for online service Prescription Doctor, said shedding and it should be recognised as a symptom of the virus.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Grace told how she was taken into hospital in mid-March by paramedics called to the family home to attend to her father, who had suffered symptoms for more than a week but had been advised against going into hospital.
'I was in t for a day and they sent me home, saying I could recover at home,' she said. 'But my Dad needed to stay in. I gave my dad a kiss on the head, told him I loved him, and that was the last time I saw him.'
Sufferers have taken to Twitter to share their experiences of hair loss and other 'long tail' symptoms of Covid-19 that continue weeks after the initial symptoms have passed
Grace was brought back into hospital just a day after being discharged when her condition worsened and she found herself struggling to breathe.
Are t long-term symptoms of Covid-19?
Covid-19 is described as a short-term illness caused by infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Public health officials tend to say people will recover within two weeks or so.
However it's become increasingly clear that this is not the case for everyone, and that the two-week period is only the 'acute illness' phase.
Data from the COVID Symptom Study app, by King's College London and health company Zoe, suggests one in ten people may still have symptoms after three weeks, and some may suffer for months.
For those with more severe disease, Italian researchers who tracked 143 people who had been hospitalised with the disease found almost 90 per cent still had symptoms including fatigue two months after first falling unwell.
The most common complaints were fatigue, a shortness of breath and joint pain - all of which were reported during their battle with the illness.
Another study in Italy showed one in ten people who lose their sense of taste and smell with the coronavirus - now recognised as a key sign of the infection - may not get it back within a month.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, involved 187 Italians who had the virus but who were not ill enough to be admitted to hospital.
The UK's Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has said the longer term impacts of Covid-19 on health 'may be significant'.
Support group have popped up online for those who have suspected Covid-19 and your experience doesn't follow the textbook symptoms or recovery time.
Louise Barnes, of Suffolk, who founded the Post Covid Syndrome Support Group, said members of the group have reported a total of 172 lasting symptoms.
'All of a sudden my lungs shriveled up, like a trodden on grape,' she continued. 'This time I had to go straight to resuscitation because I couldn't breathe. They were putting nebulizers on me and putting stuff down my throat. After that they put me on a Covid ward.'
The mother-of-one spent 13 days in hospital during which time her condition deteriorated further before improving.
'One day I found out I had to go to intensive care but I had a miraculous recovery over the next week,' she explained. 'I had a lucky escape. Eventually I recovered and I went home but I still couldn't walk. It took me three weeks to walk for the first time, and the first time I walked was to my Dad's funeral.'
Grace's father died on April 10, three days after Grace came out of hospital. She continued: 'They FaceTimed us. He died of multiple organ failure, which was caused by the Covid. After that, we just had to get on with life. Which has been horrible.'
Trying to put on a brave face for her son has been made even more difficult because Grace has pre-existing mental health issues, including anxiety and a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
She was dealt another blow three weeks ago when she woke one morning to find a clump had fallen out overnight.
'I woke up and noticed it was on my pillow and thought, "that's not good",' she continued. 'Every time I brushed my hair it was falling out and it's still happening. I've lost about 55 per cent of my hair every day and I'm losing more.'
Her mother took her to a trichologist, who explained the hair loss had been called by her severe illness.
'He said, "you've been very ill". He could tell from my hair, even though it was months ago,' Grace explained. 'He said, "I've got good news and bad news. Bad news is, your hair will fall out, most if not all of it. Good news is, you're alive".
'"If someone's really close to death, your hair is going through the process of death. Your body has taken all of the energy out of your scalp, out of your hair, to preserve the rest of your energy to save your life. It's miraculous you're alive".
'I think that was really hard for my Mum to hear because she didn't realise how close I was. She had lost my Dad and lost my sister [in childhood] and now she almost lost me.'
Grace was told that she will continue to lose hair before it starts growing back in roughly a year.
'T's nothing you can do, it's a process,' she continued. 'I've got little bald patches on my head which is difficult when my hair used to be so luscious and long and thick. I think losing hair is such a big thing for a woman because it's like her shield.'
Grace's father died on April 10, three days after Grace came out of hospital. Pictured, Grace with her father
Grace explained the hair loss had impacted her mental health. However she has been given a boost in the form of a blonde wig.
'When I saw the wig on me for the first time, I felt like myself,' she said. 'After all of the s**t I've been through this year, this wig is the best thing that's happened to me. It has made a huge difference because I can look at myself in the mirror and feel like myself again. The wig has given me a new lease of life.'
What is telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which a person sheds more hair than normal, and it can be triggered by childbirth.
It is normal for someone to be in the process of shedding about 10 per cent of the hair on their head at one time, because it grows continuously to make sure the total number of hairs remains constant.
Telogen effluvium occurs when that number rises to 30 or more per cent, and the person is losing noticeable amounts of hair.
The condition occurs because of a disturbance to the normal hair growing cycle. It can be triggered by childbirth, trauma or illness, stress, extreme weight loss, medications, or a skin condition affecting the scalp.
Telogen effluvium usually clears itself up within three to six months, but it may take longer for hair to regrow to its normal length.
Source: British Association of Dermatologists
Eva Proudman explained some of the known symptoms of Covid-19, including high fevers for a prolonged period and diarrhoea, can trigger shedding. Effects of the virus including a loss of appetite and low intake of food can also lead to hair loss.
Eva continued: 'The clinical term is telogen effluvium, which refers to a disruption to the way the hair naturally grows and sheds. It is very treatable and can even self-recover in some cases if all of the underlying causative factors are corrected.
'I have seen three people who had spent a number of days on a ventilator, blood tests revealed low levels of underlying vitamins and minerals that were also contributing to the hair shedding.
'In these cases diet and specific supplementation can really help to recover the levels required, lessen the shedding and get the hair back to normal.
'Scalps can also suffer from the effects of COVID-19, a lack of being able to wash the hair can cause a build-up of sebum and skin cells on the scalp causing it to be red, sore, itchy and flaky.
'T are a number of very good shampoos on the market that can address this, choosing the right active ingredients for your individual condition is important and a Trichologist is best placed to advise on this as they do not endorse or promote individual products.'
Dr Giuseppe agreed: 'Anyone experiencing a fever which is higher than 100/101 F will most likely experience hair loss as this interrupts the natural life cycle of the hair, they may also notice that their becomes much thinner when it grows again after having a shedding episode, this process is known as the miniaturisation of hair follicles.'
Hair loss is just one of a number of long-term symptoms that Covid-19 patients are reported.
Most coronavirus patients will recover within a fortnight, suffering a fever, cough and losing their sense of smell or taste for several days.
However, evidence is beginning to show that the tell-tale symptoms of the virus can persist for weeks on end in 'long haulers' — the term for patients plagued by lasting complications.
British scientists have already launched an investigation into the long-term impacts of Covid-19 in search of answers to thousands of people's problems, which has been referred to as 'this generation's polio'.