When the symptoms of coronavirus were first shared with the public at the beginning of the pandemic, hair loss was not one of them.

Last March Abby Read, of Totnes, was exposed to the virus after her two daughters, who she lives with, tested positive for Covid-19. Back then routine tests were not available, especially for those who did not develop common symptoms.

While the 45-year-old’s daughters were displaying symptoms of a cough, fatigue and breathlessness, Abby experienced none of those.

However, a couple of weeks later she was horrified when one of her children noticed she had developed a very large bald patch on top of her head and also one at the back.

Abby Read’s hair is now regrowing back
(Image: Abby Read)

Both were approximately the size of the palm of a hand. For Abby it was devastating.

She recalled: “My hair just fell out in big clumps. It was awful and very, very upsetting. It’s rarely discussed and I felt unattractive and embarrassed.

“I have long hair which I couldn’t wear down anymore. I had to style my hair in way to disguise the bald patches.

“I had not heard of it being a Covid symptom, but when I did some research online I read a report that said 22 per cent of women who have Covid suffer hair loss.

“Mine was not alopecia totalis which causes complete hair loss. It was confined to two spots.”

After seeking advice from her doctor, Abby was prescribed topical corticosteroids, an ointment rubbed into where the hair loss had occurred.

It wasn’t until six months later that her started to slowly grow back again.

Today it has been reported a study has found that a quarter of Covid patients suffer hair loss in the first six months after they were infected – and women are more at risk.

Researchers studying a range of long-term symptoms found 359 out of 1,655 patients hospitalised in Wuhan, China, suffered with hair loss.

Abby Read’s hair loss due to Covid
(Image: Abby Read)

Abby said: “I’m no expert but from my research it suggests coronavirus seems to be like an auto immune disease in that it can attack your human system and in my case it made me body think my hair follicles were attacking me and shut them down to prevent them from growing.

“I changed my diet and cut out all wheat and dairy. I was so relieved when my hair started to grow back. What has grown back is like baby hair because it is soft and fluffy, and so far it is only about an inch long so it’s not growing quickly.”

Abby has shared a post on social media about her hair loss to make more people people aware that it is a symptom of coronavirus, and to give people hope now that her hair has started to grow back.

She said: “I was quite surprised by how many other women have been sharing their own similar stories.

“A 19-year-old woman messaged me thanking me for what I had shared because she was suffering the same thing and said how ashamed she was.

“I think it’s an important issue because it’s a much bigger problem than people realise.

“If other people have had hair loss then just stick with it and try and have a little hope because mine is growing back.”

More stories from Devon:

Covid testing for people who don’t have symptoms launched in Torbay

Covid deaths in Devon and Cornwall down to lowest level for five weeks

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