Drake Said His Hair 'Grew in Weird' After Having COVID—What Is Telogen Effluvium?

Telogen effluvium is a type of hair loss that is temporary and can happen after having a fever. Learn what it is and how it can happen.

Drake has revealed that he had COVID-19—and said he experienced hair loss because of the virus.

The rapper shared the news on Instagram after a fan page posted two pictures of Drake that showed a stark difference in the size of the heart shape that is shaved into his hairline. In the first photo, Drake's hairline has a complete heart. In the second, only the rounded top of the heart is visible. "That heart is stressed 💀😭," the fan captioned the comparison post.

Drake hopped into the comments to explain the change by responding, "I had Covid that s--t grew in weird I had to start again 😂 it's coming back don't diss."

Drake COVID Hairline
Getty Images

Drake isn't the only person who recovered from COVID-19 and then noticed hair loss, called telogen effluvium. Esther Freeman, MD, PhD, who directs the Dermatology COVID-19 Registry, a database of skin and hair manifestations of COVID-19, told TODAY that an increasing number of people who are recovering from the coronavirus are reporting hair loss in the aftermath of the illness.

What's the Difference Between Hair Loss and Hair Shedding?

When you see clumps of hair coming out, you might be worried about hair loss, but it could just be excessive hair shedding. Your body replaces the hair on your scalp every three to five years.

Hair Loss

When something makes your hair stops growing altogether, it's hair loss. There are many different types of hair loss, each with different causes, but the most common causes are :

  • Hereditary hair loss—more commonly called male pattern baldness in men and female pattern baldness in women
  • Your immune system attacks the hair follicles
  • Medication or treatment, like chemotherapy, that is toxic to or causes inflammation of the hair follicle
  • Hairstyles that pull on the scalp: Continuous pulling of the hair and scalp can cause permanent hair loss.
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Harsh haircare products
  • Pulling your hair

Hair Shedding—Telogen Effluvium

Telogen is the name of the phase of your normal hair growth cycle when you shed hair. Normally, you shed about 100 hairs a day. If you lose a lot more than this, the medical name for this type of hair shedding is called telogen effluvium, and both men and women can develop it. It can be caused by several reasons:

  • Significant weight loss (more than 20 pounds)
  • Giving birth
  • Excessive stress, such as going through a divorce, loss of a loved one, or losing your job
  • Getting over a high fever
  • Getting over an illness that included a high fever
  • Stopping birth control pills

When your body is recovering from one or more of these causes, a lot of your hair is forced into telogen at the same time. So, hair loss after infection with COVID-19 is not unexpected because fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19.

If your COVID-19 infection does lead to the condition, noticeable hair shedding will probably start two to three months after your illness. You can expect to see handfuls of hair can come out when you shower or brush your hair, and it should stop in six to nine months.

Even if you never had COVID-19, you may still have noticed hair loss during the pandemic because of the stress it's brought on. Whether it's emotional or mental stress or anxiety, it can also force more hairs into the shedding phase.

Once the shedding stops, you'll see your hair gradually return to normal. Your hair will start to grow back, and you'll notice short hairs that are all the same length by your hairline.

Treating Telogen Effluvium

So is there a remedy to counter post-COVID hair loss? Nope, aside from giving your hair time. To speed up regrowth, you can try a topical minoxidil five percent solution (such as Rogaine).

"This encourages hair follicles to leave the telogen phase early and return to the anagen or growth phase," Angelo Landriscina, MD, a dermatologist and site director of dermatology at Mount Sinai Doctors-Brooklyn Heights, told Health.

COVID-19 is just one illness that can lead to telogen effluvium. As infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, assistant professor at Bloomberg School of Public Health and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Health, telogen effluvium "can be seen after many different types of illnesses, including malaria and tuberculosis."

A Quick Review

Fever is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. A form of excessive hair shedding, telogen effluvium, can happen after having a fever. So, after a bout with COVID-19, it's possible you could see chunks of hair falling out in the shower or on your brush. Excessive hair shedding is different from hair loss because it's temporary—it should stop in six to nine months. Rest assured that your hair will regrow gradually.

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Malkud S. Telogen Effluvium: A Review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):WE01-3. doi:10.7860/jcdr/2015/15219.6492

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair Loss: Who Gets and Causes.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Do You Have Hair Loss or Hair Shedding?

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Can COVID-19 Cause Hair Loss?

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