a man possibly balding wearing a mask typing on a laptop

Baldness May Increase COVID-19 Risk

Hair Loss Hormones Linked to Virus

Researchers are seeking commonalities between those who contract severe COVID-19 disease, and may have found a connection with male pattern baldness hormones, or androgens.

“Early observations that a high percentage of patients with severe COVID-19 disease also had male pattern baldness led researchers to identify a potential link,” said Kelli Heindel, MD, FAAFP, and ThedaCare Medical Director of Primary Care. “Researchers believe this link may be similar to the higher risks posed by certain blood types, but there are a number of factors that contribute to risk.”

Severe COVID-19 disease is that which requires hospitalization, ventilation or leads to death. Age, health conditions, race, economic status, behavior and other factors all contribute to a person’s risk of contracting severe COVID-19. Discovering and identifying genetic links may help physicians to understand who has a greater risk and develop new treatments to help them fight the virus.

Two small studies in Spain showed androgens may be a commonality and is named the finding “the Gabrin sign” in memory of Dr. Frank Gabrin, who was bald and died of COVID-19. Older women who are losing their hair also can possess these hormones.

“It’s important to remember that the virus can impact anyone and result in severe disease even without the presence of high risk factors,” Dr. Heindel said. “The best protection against severe COVID-19 disease is to avoid contracting it.”

Dr. Heindel recommends taking precautions, including:

  • Wearing a mask whenever in a public setting – in the dorm, in class, and in social settings.
  • Practicing social distancing, remaining at least six feet away from outside of your household.
  • Avoiding unnecessary physical touching.
  • Washing hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches keyboards, cell phones, toilets and faucets regularly.
  • Avoiding people who are sick.
  • Staying away from others when sick.

“We learn more about this virus every single day,” said Dr. Heindel. “It can impact different people in different ways. The best thing we can do is understand our risk and take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”