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VERIFY: Yes, male pattern baldness puts you more at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms

Medical experts and scientific studies say both men and women with a sign of increased androgens - which cause baldness - have an increased COVID-19 risk.

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that older adults and people with chronic medical conditions are more likely to get severely sick from COVID-19

But what about claims saying that hair balding makes COVID symptoms worse? Does the amount of hair on your head have a tie to your immune system? 

Our VERIFY team went to the experts to see if there really is a link between the virus and people with male pattern baldness. 

THE QUESTION 

Could going bald put you at higher risk for COVID-19 complications? 

THE ANSWER 

Yes, this is true. 

SOURCES 

Journal of American Academy of Dermatology

The American Association for the Advancement of Science

BioMedical Database UK BioBank Study

Medical Expert - Dr. Payal Kohli

WHAT WE KNOW 

"If you have male patterned baldness, this is just a sign that your body may be more sensitive to getting hospitalized from COVID," Dr. Payal Kohli said. 

She explained that people with high levels of sensitivity to androgens, or sex hormones, are more likely to end up in the hospital from the virus. 

Both men and women dealing with baldness, or androgenic alopecia, have higher levels of those hormones. 

According to studies by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the BioMedical Database UK BioBank Study, it's all about the hormones. 

Credit: WXIA
Graph Credit: UK BioBank

All three studies examining the connection between COVID-19 and the hormones, show that androgens make it easier for the virus to enter cells. 

"What we don't know about the relationship yet is whether it's a causation. What was also interesting is it wasn't just limited to men. Women who also had male pattern baldness appear to have a similar sort of pattern. The common link here appears to be increased androgen sensitivity," Kohli explained. 

According to the experts, the balder you are, the higher the risk of being hospitalized. 

"How sensitive you are to sex hormones determines conditions such as male pattern baldness and it's likely mostly genetically driven, but also probably has some influence in lifestyle habits and other medical conditions as well," Kohli said.

So, we can VERIFY, both men and women with a sign of increased androgens - which cause baldness - have an increased risk of being hospitalized from COVID-19.

Kohli suggested getting the vaccine and added that if baldness runs in a person's family, let loved ones know about the possible increased risk. 

11Alive's Verify team is here to fact-check claims being shared in the community and online. Fill out the form below with something you'd like us to Verify.