CHANDLER, AZ — Kelly Reid has been a hairstylist for 20 years. At her Chandler salon, Leidan Mitchell, she's hearing a common concern from women.
"I haven't seen every other client in my chair for months on end, right? You're just seeing people come in and they don't know what to do,” Reid says.
Reid noticed a sudden trend. "People were getting sick, and then they were coming in a few months later and they're like, ‘Something's wrong, Kelly. I'm losing my hair.’"
Reid continues, “Then I started really paying attention. ‘Did you get COVID? Have you been sick? Have you been stressed out?’"
Jodee Wells works as a receptionist at Reid's salon. She had COVID in September, spending two days in the ICU. Thankfully, Wells recovered. But months later, her once beautiful, blonde waist-long hair was disappearing.
"I noticed just clumps of hair coming out,” says Wells. “I would just I could just do something like this, and my hands would be full of hair. I would say probably 90% of my hair was gone."
After bloodwork and tests, doctors attributed her hair loss to COVID. Now when clients check out at the salon, discouraged with hair loss, she shares her truth.
Wells reveals her wig saying, “That is my Topper and this is my Halo. I turn around and I show them that this is what's left of my hair. Their mouths fall open and they're like, ‘Wow, I really don't have much to complain about.’"
Dr. Natasha Bhuyan, National Medical Director at One Medical & Family Physician says hair loss is common after a stressful event like an infection or car crash.
“There are studies that show up to 20% of people who have been hospitalized with the COVID infection, end up experiencing hair loss,” says Bhuyan.
Dr. Bhuyan hopes that most will recover in six months by eating healthy, exercising, and getting sleep.
“We are seeing people with persistent hair loss, and we think that might correlate to Long COVID but we don't know with certainty.”
Dr. Bhuyan suggests avoiding any medications in the short term and talking with your primary care doctor. In the meantime, Wells hopes her story will help other women.
“I'm not afraid of it anymore because so many people don't know about it,” Wells smiles. “And even clients here are just like, ‘Thank you for showing me your hair and knowing I'm not alone.’"