• COVID-19: Is male pattern baldness a risk factor for more serious illness?

a bald man outside, smiling broadly and showing his teeth

Are bald men more likely to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms? Researchers are looking into the possible link after preliminary observations of high frequency of male pattern baldness among patients admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert, says two very small studies suggest that androgens, which are male sex hormones associated with male pattern hair loss, could be the explanation.

Watch: Dr. Poland explains the possible connection between baldness and an increased risk of severe COVID-19.

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Gregory Poland are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy "Gregory Poland, M.D. / Vaccine Research Group / Mayo Clinic."

"The interesting thing is they also found this true for older women who were experiencing more of a male pattern baldness because of elevated androgenic hormones. So, there is something to this," says Dr. Poland.

Dr. Poland says the correlation may be similar to what we've learned about COVID-19 and blood types.

"We’ve heard about blood group A being higher risk than blood group O. These are lots of individually small factors, including genes, environment, baseline state of health, even age, that together determine someone's risk for having severe disease if they were to get infected." 

However, Dr. Poland says that not all cases of severe COVID-19 can be attributed to one of the known risk factors.

"It’s very unfortunate, we see young, healthy kids and young, healthy adults getting very complicated, even fatal disease. So, what we know about the risk factors we know about doesn't explain all of it," says Dr. Poland. "That’s why I still tell people, you know, universal precautions are still in order here. This is a serious disease." 

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding along with guidelines and recommendations may have changed since the original publication date

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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