Central Texas women experiencing hair loss after COVID-19

by Rissa Shaw

WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Thousands of Central Texans have already lost loved ones due to COVID-19, and now they’re losing something else: their hair.

Waco salon owner Rico Arenas says he has dozens of clients, more than ten percent, who are losing–or have lost–their hair, either while they had COVID-19 or soon after recovering from it.

“It’s pretty devastating that there’s been so many of them,” said Arenas, owner at Agave Hair & Body. “It’s definitely not rare anymore, there’s lot of hair that’s falling out.”

He says they come to see him for help: for a new style, comfort, or advice.

“Most people are unaware of the situation, and so they’re asking me ‘what can you do?’” said Arenas. “At first I was confused…’what was I looking at?’”

He said he’s experienced similar types of hair loss with clients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery.

Finally, he realized it was COVID-related after seeing a pattern.

One of his clients, Laurie Lavender, a nurse, came down with virus in August and had to be hospitalized.

About six weeks later, in October, her long hair started falling out.

“I was losing like everything,” said Lavender. “It became that thin all the way around, I looked like I had chemo, I just want to feel like a girl at times, without any hair you lose your feminine side in a sense.”

Lavender decided to use her hair loss…as her hair gain.

She tried something new: she shaved her entire head and has been having fun with her wigs.

“I’m a bougie girl sometimes, so I’m used to having to try to fix up,” said Lavender. “Fortunately I liked wigs ahead of time, now I have adapted to really loving wigs, trying to change my personality and trying to look a different person instead of looking like I look like my brother.”

Another one of Arenas’ clients, Diane Crespo, already had short hair when she started losing hers while she was hospitalized in the ICU with COVID-19.

“I think about other people, women who have cancer and they lose their hair—mine will come back,” said Crespo.

While Crespo is staying positive because she’s thankful to be alive, she says it’s still hard because some of the virus’ side effects remain.