Post Sepsis Hair Loss: I am 54 years old, I was... - ICUsteps


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Post Sepsis Hair Loss


I am 54 years old, I was admitted to the hospital wiith renal failure, sepsis and bilateral pneumonia, with a possible lower right lobe mass, that I still do not know what it is.

I am really scared as I am losing my hair in clumps like I am a chemo patient. I had hypokalemic, hypomagnesaemia, hyponatremia. ☹️

Is there anything I can do to prevent any more hair loss and try to thicken it, and get my balance back, my memory back, I am so scared and have stopped seeing my boyfriend due to my perception of what has happened and what has become of me. I am a trauma nurse...perform my duties and I am very skilled but still feel inadequate.

I have been placed on losartan, estradiol and hctz-potassium. will this have any effect on my hair, nails and post septic syndrome. I am a nurse but never heard of this?


Look at my hair how thick and long it is... now it is pencil thin and 12 inches shorter, about to my shoulders. I am so sad about the way my life has gone and I want to make things better. I walk, but loss of balance and dizziness hits every once and a while.

53 Replies

Hi sory to read about your issues SEPSIS sucks but is good you survived MY dads just survied same event.

The use potassium as sepsis caused electrolyte salts imbalance in your body thats prob why your hair is falling out.

Takes time to buld up your revocery BUT given renal stuff you have to be on gaurd for uti infections.

You need to drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes in them and eat planty of varied foods that contain tad salt.

Also potasiam if the giving you that they should be moinertering your bloods and carotine kidney function

Hair loss is 100% normal, please don't panic, it will come back and the main thing is you are alive!!

Do you have any icu support groups near you?

My blog may help?

I talk about my side effects such as hair loss and brain issues xx

My hair loss was very worrying at the time, but thankfully it has grown back to it's original volume - quite thick.

Be patient with everything, I know how difficult these times can be.

Eeeks in reply to angelrock

Thank you for your reply. I am suffering from post Sepsis hair loss as well. I have lots of anxiety from it, so I keep re-reading posts such as yours to remind myself that it's temporary. Thanks again for taking the time.

erzapula in reply to angelrock

Hello angel ..

My mom had a severe septic shock ... she was in coma for long and stayed in ICU for over a month .... now she is getting much better , but she started loosing her hair - all of it ...

Please tell me how long did it get for your hair to grow back again ... thank you!

angelrock in reply to erzapula

It didn't take years but several months. My hair returned but initially it was very curly, but over time it gone back to what was prior to my ICU experience - wavy. I hope I have been reassuring and your mum is improving. Good luck.

Hi, How long did it take to grow? Thanks.

I also found myself in the icu department. I had sepsis, pneumonia,uti,I lived but they called me a my hair is falling out.i'm back home and I feel so much better but my hair is my problem.this has been a hard journey but I know God brought me thru all this

Please don't despair. I spent 6 weeks in ICU with sepsis & ARDS almost 8 years ago now.But I vividly remember my horror when having an Indian head massage (to give me a boost when I came home) my hair came out in clumps & my poor therapist was having to wipe my hair off her hands on her overall. It has recovered but is straighter & finer than it was. I was also a nurse,now retired & was not aware that this could happen. Be kind to yourself recovery can take a long time.

Eeeks in reply to salfordgirl

Hi salfordgirl. Thank you for posting this. I went through a Sepsis ordeal in October 2016 (scroll down to read my story if you want). My hair has been falling out now for about 4 weeks. How long did your shedding last? And did all your hair fall out? I am devastated at the thought of going bald :(

Mannie697 in reply to Eeeks

I went through urosepsis in July and am now losing my hair at an alarming rate as well. Do you mind sharing what your outcome was? Did it eventually stop on it's own or did you lose all of your hair. I'm in panic mode at the moment...

Snow_Angel_ in reply to Eeeks

I also had sepsis in October 2016! October 6, 2016 to be exact.

I went from sepsis, to severe sepsis, to full blown septic shock. I lost most of my hair a couple weeks after being discharged.

I was airlifted to a hospital in a neighboring city, spent 2 weeks there, in a coma, then was airlifted to a more advanced hospital where I remained in a coma for 5 more weeks.

My diagnoses were

-Urinary tract infection


-Severe sepsis

-Septic shock


-Multi system organ failure

-Respiratory failure


-Tricuspid valve damage

And I'm sure I'm forgetting more.🤔

I was intubated prior to being airlifted, and had to undergo a tracheotomy prior to the 2nd life flight. Talk about SCARY! Oh, and the NIGHTMARES!

I had to relearn EVERYTHING! I learned to read, to write, to talk with then without a tracheostomy, to sit, stand, walk with then without a walker, do my hair, use the bathroom on my own, and much more.

Please feel free to follow me on this site and reply too! When I read your sepsis date, it gave me chills. We were sick at the same time.

Cheers 😊❤


erzapula in reply to salfordgirl


I am so glad you have recovered ...

My mom had a severe septic shock like 2 months ago... she was in coma for long and stayed in ICU for over a month .... now she is getting much better , but she started loosing her hair - all of it ... this is affecting my mom's mood so much :(

Please tell me how long did it get for your hair to grow back again ... thank you!

Hi I to have had Sepsis, multi organ failure, bilateral pneumonia and pulmonary embolii. Ten months after leaving hospital I have post sepsis syndrome. I have always had very thick hair and I lost about 70% of it according to my hairdresser. It is coming back but slowly and I now wear it shorter than I have done in many years. My understanding is that traumatic hair loss cannot be prevented. I have found using natural products and not blow drying or straightening my hair helps. Healing thoughts to you from Scotland.

Eeeks in reply to LesAnne

Hi LesAnna, How long ago did you have sepsis and many months did your hair shedding last for? I know everyone's different, but from all my readings, the going rate seems to be 7 months. At that rate I predict I will be bald.

LesAnne in reply to Eeeks

Hi Eeeks I sympathise with your anxiety about hair loss as I also felt very anxious at the time. I had sepsis in February 2016 and my hair loss started 3/4 months later and lasted about 3 months. I am a natural redhead but my new hair is a mix of colours including grey but I am 56 later this month. I clipped my mid length hair and then had it cut shorter.

Healing thoughts


FiannaWarrior in reply to Eeeks

Myself I had sepsis the last two weeks of October 2016… My shedding began around December… I am now completely without hair except for probably a quarter of an inch all around my head and truthfully I get a lot of compliments but it is not me… I have had long hair most of my life and this in itself is shocking… I don't think it gets better everybody keeps saying at least you're alive that's right ball than a life that's exactly what I wanted in my life… Hang in there It is a very unpleasant experience at best I'm going to leave you with my email address if you wish to see my process and the end result of you more than happy to share…

Hang in there just keep working at it the hair does grow… I promise you ...mine coming back but extremely slow pace unfortunately for me LOL

I too had sepsis in October 2016. My hair continually fell out for about 6 months, then began to grow back. It's been 2 and a half years, and I'm happily "un-bald" 😂😊❤

It is 18months since I had septic shock and multiple organ failure. I also experienced thinning hair but it is now thicker than it was before. I am not back to normal and don't expect I ever will be now. I still suffer nightmares, anxiety and dizziness.also breathless. It's a long road and no treatment for recovery except patience. It's good to know we are not alone! Regards from the highlands of Scotland x

Eeeks in reply to Ruth2610

I'm sorry to hear about your organ failure. I was lucky to not have my sepsis take me that far. I am struggling with a lot still and really worried about going bald. It's good to hear yours is even better than before. Thank you for taking the time to answer.

thank you all for your comments… I never thought in 1 million years that I would go through this but I'm so scared all the time that at least Little cough or shortness of breath is going to send me back to ICU … I've always been healthy… My family keeps telling me to leave my job or go to days... I've been doing 20 years of nights in the busy ERs call over the country I do trauma and ICU … It's hard for me to realize that you're right perhaps I'm not going to ever be the same person I was before... I do suffer from dizziness and I stumble from time to time because my ability to walk was impaired from this… I guess I will take one day at a time I'll let you know about my progress… I'm still battling pneumonia… It did come back LOL anyway thank you for all your answers your comments and your kind thoughts I feel little better but again two more handfuls of hair has come out of my head this morning after my shower. I want everybody to have a wonderful day thank you ... 😩💕😩

Just over 4 years ago I had severe sepsis and MOF after ULAR bowel cancer surgery .. ended up in ICU on life support and mechanical ventilation for a week. 2 months in hospital and 5 months off work.

I was left with cognitive impairment after surviving ICU and it has improved about 70 % but still have some short term memory difficulty and sometimes in processing what i hear or read.

Oddly, about 2years after ICU i also randomly had a 2 months period of clumsy miscoordination, stumbling dropping things and knocking things over..but it also resolved itself without intervention. I had to keep a sense of humour about it and not get caught in it feeling scarey.

With neuroplasticity in mind, I did Latin dance to help promote right and left brain working together to heal and recover cognitive ability. I also studied and completed a diploma in 6 months to maximise neuroplasticity re-building of new pathways.

From other replies here, it sounds like your hair will recover .. which is great... and from my experience your dystaxia ? will also recover as mine did.

Your personal experience with sepsis MOF and ICU survival gives you huge insight and unique understanding in your line of work.

You can be proud of all the positive differences you have helped to make in the lives of so many other people you have saved in ERs and ICUs.

Hold onto your courage, determination, sense of humour, friends, family, mates and the beauty of nature.

Blessings and big hug 💕

I just want to thank each and everyone of you for posting a reply and giving me hope I think I cried three times last night at work… And I did share my knowledge about post septic syndrome with everybody that I work with so they have a better understanding of what people go through… I certainly appreciate all the information that I've gathered and I want each and everyone of you to know that I am grateful to you… I hope all of you have a wonderful week and thank you for sharing


Hi Fianna,

Thank you for posting this as I am in the same boat and looking for answers on my sudden hair loss.

Last October, my bowel got nicked during a scheduled surgery to remove a benign endometrioma tumor and a cyst. A couple days later I was back at the hospital for emergency surgery and an infected body. I was in ICU for over a week, TPN (total parenteral nutrition) IV for three weeks, received 3 units of blood and stayed 40 days in the hospital. Because of the massive swelling or Peritonitis in my abdomen, coupled with how thin I was, the surgeon could not close up my abdomen for weeks. There were liters of fluid drained out of my abdomen, which was obviously infected. I had 9 more surgeries (one every 3rd day) with full cavity washouts and was finally closed up with the help of the ABRA system. Unfortunately the surgeon was unable to close up the smaller wound from my initial tumor removal... which is still in the process of healing via wound vac negative therapy. They said the only reason I survived is because of how fit I was. I truly believe my strong heart and lungs hung in there for me.

Now three months post sepsis, all of a sudden my hair has started coming out at an alarming rate! I am absolutely devastated at the thought of going bald! I even started washing my hair only once a week because I can't bear to see the amount of hair that comes out each time I wash it.

I know my body was in a dire state for weeks and the hair loss is probably from prolonged malnutrition while I was "out of it". But I guess I'm just looking for answers on whether it will stop and grow back. I am so upset and feel totally alone with this fear, so it's helpful to read about others that have gone through the same thing. There is not much out there regarding sepsis even though each year more American's die from it than AIDS, breast cancer, and prostate cancer combined.

Babykangaroo in reply to Eeeks

After reading your post I was shocked at how our stories are exactly the same. I had a scheduled hysterectomy, at which time the Dr knicked my colon. She of course had no idea she did it, and so the next day she discharged me even though my blood pressure was extremely low, and I was throwing up in the trash can. 2 days later I was rushed back by ambulance after feeling something rupture and a sudden warmth throughout my abdomen. I was dead upon arrival and had to be resusitated. I was intubated and rushed into emergency exploratory surgery to figure out what was wrong with me. My entire abdominal cavity was full of fecal matter, which caused me to go into the last stage of Sepsis. I spent 2 weeks in ICU with 2 chest tubes, an NG tube, a colostomy bag, and a wound vac on my 12" x 4.5" tummy wound. They had to leave my wound open as well because my stomach was so distended. Actually my whole body was so swollen that my feet and hands looked like someone blew them up! My husband was afraid to touch me as he said he thought my skin would tear or something because it was pulled so tight. After ICU I spent another 2 weeks on the regular floor. Went home and a month later was rushed back to the hospital for another I days because the 3 abscesses I had in my abdomen had grown, and I was having a hard time breathing. 2 more chest tubes were placed, and a PICC line. This time they were smart enough to send me home on daily IV antibiotics for 6 weeks. This all initially started December 30th 2016. It is now almost May 1st 2017, and although I am finally feeling much better I am not having a hard time seeing, sleeping and my hair is falling out in clumps. I have lost 3/4 if my hair, and I am SO depressed about it. That's the one thing I have always loved about myself, and I know In another week or so I will be completely bald. I know this is normal for about 50% of people that are blessed enough to survive Sepsis. It is called post septic syndrome. I am just curious if anyone found anything that slows the rate of hair loss? I am going to purchase a wig, but it summer and that sounds awfully hot! Main thing is we are all here to write about this. Most people do not survive sepsis, especially when it involved a knicked colon or intestine! Glad you are all here...God is good!!!

If I can post my picture I would… To show you what I look like today without hair… This is a very cruel and unusual occurrence… However after all is said and done I have my life I guess… My suggestion to anybody who's going through this get the word out because if it saves one woman from having hair loss I'm telling you that's one heart that is not broken from the lock of hair… I understand that Hair does not define us… But it was my signature and it is my loss and I am grieving believe it or not every day… I went to a cancer clinic where they actually chopped off the rest of my spriggs which made me feel a little better and I'm trying to get through this as best I can just like the rest of you ... The good news is I bought several wigs to wear depending on the day… And how I feel… Gives me a little pleasure knowing that I have choices LOL… And by the way did you know if you have insurance you could place a claim for a cranial prosthesis it's called (wig) made of real hair and you can get a prescription from your doctor and submit it with the claim form from your Insurance company… It's real hair by the way and it's fit for your head… All the best to all you men and women who have to go through this and I'm so sorry 💕

Going through it now. Massive hair loss from renal failure, severe sepsis, coma, ICU for six weeks. Was in hospital for 14 weeks. During follow-up appointment, Doctor told me to take Biotin. There is another product called Eprouvage that hair stylist said works but you have to use it religiously. From what I've researched, the hair loss starts 2-4 months AFTER sepsis and it can go on several months, in one article it stated up to 18 months for it to begin to grow back. I completely understand the devastation of having to deal with massive hair loss. I was in ICU in January hair began really falling out March 2017 and I've lost almost all of it as of May.

TexasLise in reply to cj914

Mine started with a UTI; then misdiagnosed at a local ER on Halloween; went to another ER 3 days later in septic shock and was in ICU for four days. Noticed Beau lines on nails in late January. Hair loss started a little then but accelerated in February. Losing all of my longer hair and some newer hair. I am considering shaving off what is left because it looks so scraggly. Was already taking Biotin; my doc said that Zinc helped the most with hair loss. Has anyone heard of a vitamin formula recommended to cancer patients for hair loss?

I don’t have a clue my friend… I’ve use biotin going on or year and a half now my hair is long enough to put in a ponytail but it still super curly and thick as well I had my hair all taken off because I looked like a zombie with the sprigs that were sticking out here in there you don’t have to shave it but going to get a super short haircut… If you need anymore help or you just want to talk I’ll leave you my email address


I got sick back in May. I had an infection around my heart. When they did the surgery they nicked my liver and I ended up with sepsis. I almost died. Now I'm losing my hair as well and I have not regained my balance completely. I still feel very weak and I am somewhat depressed I only got home from rehab about 3 weeks ago. I just recently read that you lose your hair because of sepsis and I realize that it will grow back. Everything I've been reading says it's going to take time probably quite a bit. But I did survive.

You don't say how long it's been since you've been recovering. I had sepsis back in actually it was septic shock back in the end of May 2017. I went to rehab in June and got out at the end of July recovering my ability to walk and move. My balance is pretty good most of the time but I still have a lack of energy I did lose my hair. It was down to my shoulders curly and thick. It got so I could see my scalp in the back and I pretty much gave up on it. It was traumatic but I shaved it off. That was about a month ago. It is now November and it's coming back in full again. My hair grows slowly so it will be a long time before it's long again but it does grow back and I am getting stronger. I hope this helps.

Last October 31 I got out of the hospital… It is now December 4 think and my hair is about 3 inches long I have balance issues and I found out the other day that I may not be able to ride my motorcycle anymore because I’m basically become afraid I will fall off LOL I still have balance issues and it’s a year and a month later… I fell off the back of my truck last me I think that’s what caused back problems now… I still have neuropathy in my leg and arm… And any rate I’m alive I’m supposed to get married in a few weeks and I basically begged my hairstylist to try and get some extensions in so I don’t look so sad looking I really miss my hair and that will never change

Hi, I had sepsis shock as well this year. My kidneys stoped working as well as everything else. My family was told that I would not live. I was in a coma for a few weeks and had to have Dialysis . I got sick in May. Since being home it has been a very hard road! I lost so much of my memory!! My hair also fell out, and I am taking a ton of medicine. I also have to use a cane some times. But what is worse is trying to pick up the pieces of your life and moving forward. But it does get a little bit better every day, so just hang in there and see what great things life has in store for you

Hi, I had sepsis shock as well this year. My kidneys stoped working as well as everything else. My family was told that I would not live. I was in a coma for a few weeks and had to have Dialysis . I got sick in May. Since being home it has been a very hard road! I lost so much of my memory!! My hair also fell out, and I am taking a ton of medicine. I also have to use a cane some times. But what is worse is trying to pick up the pieces of your life and moving forward. But it does get a little bit better every day, so just hang in there and see what great things life has in store for you

When I try to explain in my message above was I had septic shock with multi organ failure October 2016 it is now December 4, 2017 LOL yes… Memory, balance, hair loss, neuropathy I was fortunate I did not have to have dialysis because I told him I will will myself better I will not have dialysis if that is the case call my family tell them they have three days to come see me because I will not do it… Or year and two months later I’m still paying a heavy financial prices well there is no help for people like us unfortunately and I find devastating that they misdiagnosed caused by a doctor they didn’t listen to me for it in the first place is all my expense there wasn’t a lawyer anywhere to be found that was going to help me… I have checked into it I will look into it my next adventure will be to write the hospital and tell him I am financially devastated and there’s nothing I can do it will take my documents over to the man who is diagnosed me and tell him here this is what you caused because you didn’t listen to me I’m so angry still so angry

I had sepsis in April recovery in May! I've almost lost all my hair! Will it stop before I'm bald! So sad!

AdrianaLiz in reply to Khelp

How are you now???

Also going through hair loss. Fortunately (strange word but how I feel) went thru this with chemo so know all will be fine eventually. The only advantage with Cancer hair loss is that you are often around bunches of folks in the same position as you go for treatment and follow up. You are more alone with Sepsis hair loss so this is a valuable resource to keep you from feeling alone.

I just satrted losing my hair. Post sepsis about two months. I want to hear from the folks that got it back!

After two and a half years I have my hair back. It was a devastating event that I never want to repeat. But my hair is fresh and soft and I think thick.

Maybe if I get an email addy I can send you a few pictures. I do have disabilities from this septic shock. I’ll never be the athlete I once was but I am alive.

Hi im recovering from sepsis and have hair loss would love to see your photos to inspire me thanks my email is

Tried to send you a long letter and show you post sepsis pictures of my hair growth progress. Anyway check your email address

please resend love to hear from you

There's a medical name for your hair loss: telogen effluvium. It's described as "a reversible condition where hair falls out after a stressful experience."

The hair loss usually starts a couple of months after the triggering experience, and doesn't lead to either total baldness or permanent hair loss.

It's been a year since my ICU stay and my significant hair loss. It's now growing back in, and I think it's a bit curlier than before. But I won't really know until it gets longer.

Hi there. So sorry for what you going through. I understand fully what you going through as I went through this post sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis. I am now completely healed after a full 8months and 8 days.

I suffered with extreme hair fall like 3 months post the surgery. My fingernails and toenails were also breaking and getting these ridges in the centre. I was totally depressed. I even cut my hair super short hoping for it to stop falling. I then decided to use Biotin. This helped me. I used it for a full 2 months 1 capsule a day. My hair is now thick and full and growing well. My nails are back to normal.

The only thing that you can do for now is be patient and give it time. Healing is a big process.

Wish you all the best during the healing process. Remember god is great, prayer is your hope. Have a strong mind. This will see you through your ordeal.

Take care

I wish I’d seen your post a long time ago. I have about 50% hair loss after sepsis and two years on heavy iv antibiotics. I lived through it, and I kind of feel guilty for even being concerned about my hair... but is there any way to get my hair back after all that toxicity?

Well I feel guilty and very selfish for wishing I had died. It sounds terrible and I’m not going to apologize because there are days I literally cry myself to sleep because of pain and discomfort because of this event I had no idea the long-term effects it has had on me or will continue to have until I take my last breath. Don’t feel guilty I hated my shorthair although looking back I looked OK and I wish I had had the confidence to have embraced my shorthair. I got hit on by a lesbian doctor LOL and her comments were genuine and from the heart she said I was beautiful I really believed her. I spent a lot of time praying and asking my heavenly father to remove the burden that I had weighing on me so heavy mostly because of like I said earlier wishing that I had died because I was extremely suicidal post sepsis syndrome mostly because I am a nurse that works in a busy ER I have no feeling in my left hand and I have a very difficult time wearing gloves while starting an IV which I didn’t start for like eight months after I practiced on friends to get my confidence back. There are days that I slip my fall I twist the wrong way and I start to cry because the pain is intense I know but this event left me doubting everything that I say or do but I try to be a smart mouth and laugh many things off but deep down inside I am a different person. Every day is a struggle and I always give people hope. And sepsis Is my baby at work. I advocate for patients and I start IVs and fluids prior to orders because I know dang well the effects that this has on me and I’m in my 50s most of my patients are in their 70s and 80s when I call a sepsis alert at work so when someone says I don’t take sepsis seriously I lived it I take it very seriously and funny thing is I survived it I could ramble on and on but that was four years ago in October coming up today I’m going to live and today I’m going to be positive I am so grateful for you and everyone who writes their story. Thank you 🙏

I can relate to the dark feelings you describe. I’m a cardiac radiographer so I know how seriously ill I was and I've found that hard to deal with.

I actually had to have most of my hair cut off after my admission! My hair was quite long and became terribly matted. The nurses spent an hour trying to brush it out for me but it was full of split ends so I got rid of it! X

Oh my gosh I also had a big matted wad of hair in the back of my head LOL I was able after three days and a ton of cream rinse was slowly able to get it out then I basically put a bun on the top of my head to prevent it from happening again and the weird thing is right in the back of my head I’m constantly scratching I hope I don’t burn a hole right through to my brain by doing so… It’s funny how our hair not necessarily defines us but as a woman that’s who we are. I know I didn’t look terrible with short hair but it’s not my thing. I really like my long hair I’m grateful beyond and back that it grew and it’s beautiful today. it’s much nicer than my sisters LOL I have a tremendous amount of curls and wave now. I wish there was a place I could live where I didn’t feel pain every day I know Arizona is quite dry I wouldn’t mind living up north either as long as it’s dry and there’s not too much humidity or dampness. like you my friend I have heart and kidney damage joint pain on a continual basis Well isn’t life funny… Thank you so much for sharing at least I’m not alone this game❤️

Biotin actually works?

Worked for me. I use it daily for three months then stop for a month and then resume. I also use a shampoo and hair tonic called viviscal. My hair came back wavy and healthier than before. I had clumps and patches and decided to cut it all off and start again. It was a very rough last 4 years. I still struggle with severe pain and joint and heart and kidney damage from it. I’ll never get over this but I will do my best. Depression is currently my enemy. If you want to chat use my email.

Cheers 💕

I just wanted to say that we have a lot of similarities that could be causing it, estrogen level, being so sick with sepsis, the hight blood pressure meds can cause it, I feel terrible without my thicker hair. They say it's only temporary.

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