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Hair Loss After COVID-19 Vaccine: Treatment Options

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/21/2022

Depending on who you ask, COVID-19 vaccinations either fill your blood with robots or make it possible for Grandma to see another birthday.

The COVID-19 vaccine has been pushed and pulled in many political directions. But aside from the blood robots, there are some science-backed concerns to consider, including a chance you’ll experience hair loss after getting the shot.

Truth be told, we’d rather talk about blood robots that run off those 5G towers your aunt posts about on Facebook. It’s certainly more interesting than the rare-ish side effects of getting any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

But while the vein-traveling drones are imaginary, hair loss after the COVID-19 vaccine is very much a real possibility.

Hair Loss From a COVID-19 Infection vs. the COVID-19 Vaccine

Some people have experienced hair loss as a result of a COVID-19 infection. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the vaccine will put you in a safer follicular zone.

On the other hand, some worry getting vaccinated may have a similar effect on hair loss. Our guess is that you’re here because you’re weighing your desire to get that second or third dose, or you’ve already gotten it, and after looking in your sink, are panicking about losing your hair.

COVID-related hair loss isn’t something you have to worry too much about. But like emotional stress-related hair loss, it’s a possibility to be aware of.

Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Cause Hair Loss?

Before we get into the weeds of how and why, let’s answer this pressing question outright: Can the vaccine make you lose your hair?

It’s not exactly a common occurrence, but COVID-19 vaccines — along with many other vaccines — may cause hair loss in certain individuals.

Some assume the cause of hair loss due to the vaccine would be telogen effluvium, a condition in which the body sheds rapidly due to stress or trauma.

Telogen effluvium happens when a person contracts a severe illness (which, in theory, could include a SARS-CoV-2 infection). It could also be a result of acute illness, a major surgery, a stressful event, ongoing psychological distress, significant weight loss or other sudden changes.

A vaccine entering your body and causing you to experience reduced symptoms of a modified virus seems like it would qualify as a sudden change — at least in theory. But experts have found that COVID-19 vaccines cause a different kind of hair loss: alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata is not a typical type of hair loss. It’s actually an autoimmune disease in which a person’s natural immune response leads to shedding. The hair follicles are essentially attacked by a confused or otherwise hindered immune system, causing the body to literally reject and kill off hair.

This effect can happen across the entire body or just on the head, but in the case of COVID-19, it’s usually both.

COVID-19 vaccines can sometimes make latent autoimmune conditions suddenly active. Alopecia areata is a prime example.

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How Common Is Hair Loss After a COVID-19 Vaccine?

It’s extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact rate of hair loss following the COVID-19 vaccine.

First, COVID-19 vaccinations are very new. And while they’ve been the most diligently tracked vaccines in the history of modern medicine, there’s still a lot of raw data and complex findings that need sorting out before we have an accurate picture of the potential side effects.

Also, nearly 13 billion doses have been administered worldwide, including boosters, which comes out to roughly two-thirds of the global population. Since people experience hair loss for a number of reasons, it’s tricky to say whether a COVID-19 vaccine was the cause, especially given the sheer number of folks who’ve gotten it.

Still, a 2022 study noted 915 cases of alopecia following the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. People with family histories of alopecia areata and thyroid issues may have an increased risk, and onset could happen anywhere from two weeks to four months after the second dose.

These findings are limited in time, scope and available data — and honestly, it’ll likely be years before we fully understand the more minute details. But one promising takeaway from the study is that about 80 percent of the hair-loss patients reported hair regrowth since their diagnosis.

And of course, the COVID-19 vaccine offers “overwhelming benefits” in preventing serious infection, and this information shouldn’t discourage people from getting it.

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How to Treat Vaccine Hair Loss

With 80 percent of patients reporting hair growth, recovering from post-vaccine hair loss is really a matter of time. And with a high rate of “spontaneous remissions” (people who get better without treatment), the effectiveness of alopecia areata treatment is hard to pin down.

Also, treatments don’t really focus on the hair itself but rather address the body’s inflammatory immune responses. They can include injections, immunotherapy, topical steroids and other therapies.

Your personal recovery journey from alopecia hair loss isn’t something we can outline here. A healthcare provider will consider the severity of your symptoms and your tolerance for different therapies to determine the best treatment approach.

Your provider can also help you figure out whether your hair loss was a potential side effect of the COVID-19 shot or a result of another medical issue, a skin condition, physical stressors or a medication you’re taking.

What If My Hair Loss Isn’t Due to the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Many people experience hair loss (whether they’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine or not), and yours could simply be part of the aging process. Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) isn’t something that went away during the pandemic.

And even if you noticed some shedding after your first or second dose, it wouldn’t rule out male pattern baldness.

If you’re experiencing a different form of hair loss than alopecia areata, medications like topical minoxidil or oral finasteride could help. Both respond to the causes of hair loss in androgenetic alopecia.

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COVID-19 Vaccines and Hair Loss: The Big Picture

Regardless of how you got here, hair loss is nothing to shrug off. If you’re seeing more stray hairs than usual in your shower or sink, it’s time to do something about it.

Think it’s because of a vaccine? Talk to a healthcare provider. Think it’s because of something else? Talk to a healthcare provider.

Checking in with a healthcare professional is the best way to get trusted answers, medication recommendations and a treatment strategy tailored to your unique needs.

Not sure where to begin? Our hair loss resources are a great place to start. So get vaccinated, get educated, and get your hairline the TLC it needs.

4 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Al Aboud AM, Zito PM. Alopecia. Updated 2022 Apr 30. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538178/.
  2. Lepe K, Zito PM. Alopecia Areata. Updated 2021 Nov 15. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537000/.
  3. Scollan ME, Breneman A, Kinariwalla N, Soliman Y, Youssef S, Bordone LA, Gallitano SM. Alopecia areata after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. JAAD Case Rep. 2022 Feb;20:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jdcr.2021.11.023. Epub 2021 Dec 15. PMID: 34931171; PMCID: PMC8673931. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8673931/.
  4. Hughes EC, Saleh D. Telogen Effluvium. Updated 2022 Jun 26. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.