Khloé Kardashian revealed that she experienced an irksome—but ultimately harmless—side effect due to COVID-19: temporary hair loss.
“My hair really fell out with COVID,” Kardashian said during a Twitter Space chat this week, as People reports. “So after, it was really a struggle for a minute,” said Kardashian, who had the virus early on in the pandemic, around March 2020.
Post-COVID hair loss was one among many symptoms and changes to her body that Kardashian experienced in connection with the illness. Kardashian also said that her sense of smell and taste was “the only thing that I didn’t lose” while batting the virus, People reports. “But I had everything else—like anything else you can imagine.”
Kardashian previously revealed in an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians from last year that her COVID-19 symptoms included a horrible headache, “vomiting, and shaking, and hot and then cold,” and a cough that caused a burning sensation in her chest. “This virus has hit me like a ton of bricks, and it’s been really scary,” Kardashian said in footage she filmed herself while self-isolating. “It was really bad for a couple days.”
Hair loss is actually a relatively common side effect for people to experience after having COVID-19. Other famous names, like Drake and Alyssa Milano, mentioned dealing with hair loss after having the virus. However, what looks like hair loss, in this case, is just temporary hair shedding—and it’s not unique to COVID-19.
The technical term for what’s going on here is telogen effluvium (TE), the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains. This phenomenon is a form of excessive but temporary hair shedding that occurs due to changes in the normal hair growth and shedding cycles. When more hair than usual enters the shedding phase all at the same time, that makes it appear as if clumps of hair are falling out. Thankfully, it’s usually a temporary effect that begins to correct itself within a few months.
Telogen effluvium can be triggered by a variety of factors in the body, including hormonal fluctuations (which is why a lot of people who have recently given birth experience the issue) and stressors on the system, such as an intense experience with a viral illness. Some people notice excessive hair shedding two or three months after battling a fever or illness, according to the AAD, including people who have recovered from COVID-19. In one small study, published in Dermatologic Therapy in January, 10 out of 552 COVID-19 patients who were evaluated by a dermatologist experienced TE in connection with their infection. (They reported shedding beginning an average of 50 days after their coronavirus symptoms first came on.)
The good news is that TE typically goes away on its own, and the return to normal shedding and growth cycles gradually restores the volume of hair. Most people find that their hair returns to its original fullness within six to nine months, the AAD says. (If TE symptoms last longer than that, you can see a dermatologist for guidance.) In the interim, there are certain hair styling tricks and hair products made for people with thin or fine hair that can give the appearance of fullness. So while clumps of hair coming out after battling COVID-19 might be “a struggle for a minute,” it’s not something you need to be too concerned about.