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Mum with long Covid loses almost all her hair and shares inspiring message


A Bristol mum who had a thick head of hair has lost almost all of it within weeks of contracting coronavirus.

Laura Evesford, from Sea Mills, has had a nightmarish experience of long Covid since being diagnosed on August 19, struggling with joint pain, breathlessness, exhaustion, dizziness and cognitive and memory issues.

The 39-year-old had a “lush, thick, long head of hair” before her diagnosis, but says it has fallen out so quickly in recent weeks that she has “hardly any left”. Her GP has told her it is likely to be the result of her long Covid.

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Laura said: “The moment that people stop me on the street — and you do get those rude people who stop and stare, or automatically assume it’s cancer — I will put them straight, because the more people who know, the better.

“I can’t be vaccinated due to my medical history, so I wanted to speak out: bloody get vaccinated to protect those of us who can’t.”

The hair loss has been distressing, but Laura refuses to let it define her. “There’s no reason for me to cover it up,” she added. “I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I’m the victim of this horrible pandemic.”

The NHS does not list hair loss as an official Covid symptom, but a study in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year showed nearly a quarter of patients (359 out of 1,655) experienced hair loss within six months of infection, and found women were at greater risk.

Laura Evesford
Laura Evesford before she contracted coronavirus

Laura, her husband Richard and children — aged eight to 17 — all tested positive in August, with Laura and her eight-year-old daughter Temperance suffering most. Temperance has also developed long Covid symptoms, including severe breathing difficulties.

“I don’t know where we got it from, still to this day,” said Laura. “It was around my birthday, which I don’t remember. It wiped out four days of my life.

“You get the chills, then the sweating, then the chills, then the sweating, then the banging headaches, and then I felt like I was drowning. It was horrible. There was no cough for me, though.”

About four weeks after her diagnosis, Laura noticed her hair starting to come out. It began slowly, but in the last three weeks has quickened to the point that a shake of her head will lead to hair falling out.

“I wake to mounds on my pillow,” she added. “It’s not just hair loss. What you get is this tingle under the scalp, and then when the hair comes out, it is where that tingle is. When it comes out, it feels like a cold burn, like you’ve constantly got ants crawling over your head.

“When I wake up it’s all over my face, it’s horrible. My other half takes his hair down to a number one or two, and he’s got more hair than me now. My eyebrows are falling out, my eyelashes are falling out, my other body hair is falling out.

Laura Evesford
Laura Evesford in the earlier stages of her hair loss

“When it started coming out, I went through a bit of a panic, but I’m not ashamed of it. I have a cap and wig to wear, but I’m not covering it up. The only time I cover my head is when I’m out with my two youngest, who are eight and 10, in places with kids of their age. I know how cruel kids can be, and that’s the only reason.

“My two youngest have been quite distressed by it, and not being able to play and do mummy’s hair, but they are hoping it will come back. I’ve explained to them what is going on.

“I do have some regrowth in areas where the hair first came out, but it’s very slow. My hair used to grow really fast, about four inches in six weeks. Something has definitely been scrambled in my body. It feels like it’s gone into rejection mode.”

Laura’s GP has told her she will be referred to a long Covid clinic, but she must wait 12 weeks after her infection for an appointment.

She will need treatment for a range of other symptoms besides the hair loss. Laura, who has fibromyalgia, already had a weak immune system, and fears Covid has “wiped out” the immune defences she had.

She said: “I’ve been getting long Covid flare-ups as bad as the symptoms when I first had it. Within a month, I’ll have a good three flare-ups. The shortest lasted two days and longest 10 days.

“I’ll get brain fog and dizziness. I’ll need to stop at the top of the stairs, sometimes three quarters of the way up. I get banana fingers as I call them, they will go numb and swell up with fluid so I have to take my engagement ring off. My smell and taste were shot, though I’ve just got that back.”

Laura Evesford
Laura Evesford’s hair loss has progressed rapidly

Laura’s daughter Temperance has struggled with joint aches, stomach aches, ringing ears, breathing problems and a “constant” crick in her neck since contracting Covid. Temperance has also had insomnia, sometimes waking at 3am, an issue she had never experienced before.

“The Saturday before last, we called 111 because she was having breathing difficulties, and they sent an ambulance,” said Laura. “The paramedic gave advice on what to do if things got worse, and said we should speak to the doctor about long Covid.

“She had childhood asthma but didn’t have anything like that for years until she got Covid. She is still really struggling to breathe.”

Temperance must also wait 12 weeks from infection for an appointment with a paediatric long Covid clinic.

A poll of more than 1,000 experts by the Institute of Trichologists, which represents specialists in hair disorders, revealed earlier this year that 79 per cent had seen patients with post-Covid hair loss.

Eva Proudman, chairwoman of the Institute, told The Times in April that immune systems may be “stirred up” by Covid in such a way that follicles are seen as foreign objects and destroyed, causing “patchy hair loss”.

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