Are bald men more at risk from Covid-19?
The surprising answer is that yes, bald and balding men more be more at risk at suffering from more severe symptoms of Covid-19. A scary thought indeed, but where did this claim come from? Carlos Wambier M.D. of Brown University, has been conducted research into this since the outbreak began. What started as a mere observation of the physical appearance of patients on the Covid-19 hospital wards became a full on research paper. Wambier is quoted as saying "baldness is a perfect predictor of severity" (of coronavirus).
How could hair loss and Covid-19 be linked like this? That isn't understood at the moment, but the statistics from the study are alarming. The initial study examined 41 patients, and found that 29 of them were suffering from Male Pattern Baldness. We have estimations of how many people should be suffering from hair loss at certain ages. We don't know what the average age of the participants in this research were. This first study had 71% of the patients suffering from Hair Loss. This is a staggering amount and we would expect estimate that by the age of 70, approximately 70% of men would be suffering from a degree of hair loss. To really validate the study we would need to see an average age of the patients to significantly lower than 70 years of age. In any case, this was a promising start to show a correlation between Male Pattern Baldness and Covid-19.
The next step was a larger study to try and replicate these figures, but on a larger scale. The second study took place across 3 hospitals in Madrid, Spain. In this collection of patients almost 80% of the 122 patients were found to suffering from Male Pattern Baldness. This would show an unprecedented correlation between Covid-19 and Male Pattern Baldness, but none of what has been found so far goes as far as showing a direct relationship between the two.
Wambier is quoted again as saying "We think androgens or male hormones are definitely the gateway for the virus to enter our cells". Male Pattern Baldness is caused by the interaction between Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and Androgen receptors at the base of our hair follicles. Our genetics are what determine the distribution of these androgen receptors and at what age they develop. A lucky some will be blessed with genes that develop no androgen receptors and never suffer from Male Pattern Baldness. The rest of us aren't so lucky and will succumb to some hair loss. DHT on its own doesn't cause Male Pattern Baldness just as the androgen receptors on their own won't cause it. It is only the presence of both together that will cause Male Pattern Baldness.
All healthy men will have a level of DHT in their blood stream at all times. So it can't just be the presence of DHT that causes the severity of Covid-19 symptoms to increase. At this stage much more research is needed to fully understand the nature of the relationship, if there is one at all! Research is under way to see if treatment for Male Pattern Baldness could be used to fight Covid-19 symptoms. Finasteride is a male only prescription medication, to treat Male Pattern Baldness and Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, which is currently being investigated as a possible treatment.
For the time being we will continue to keep our eyes open for new developments that may link baldness and Covid-19 together!