Why bald men might be more susceptible to severe COVID-19

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The COVID-19 virus could be more prevalent in bald men due to factors linked to testosterone levels, new research has shown.

Testosterone produces a hormone called dihydrotestosterone which is responsible for balding.

The same hormone could also make people more susceptible to COVID-19.

A sign guiding people is seen outside a NSW Health Pop-up COVID-19 clinic at Lakemba Uniting Church on October 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
A sign guiding people is seen outside a NSW Health Pop-up COVID-19 clinic at Lakemba Uniting Church on October 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)

“In terms of baldness, studies in Spain shows that bald men were over represented in terms of having severe outcomes of COVID,” infectious disease expert Sanjaya Senanayake told Today.

“That might sound weird but there is a biological basis for it because bald men have a high levels of dihydrotestosterone which incidentally helps COVID get into cells.”

A converse study conducted in Italy showed men with prostate cancer in hospital who were taking an anti-testosterone for cancer were four times less likely to get infected.

People with certain blood types may also be more susceptible to having severe symptoms if infected with COVID-19.

“With blood groups it looks like blood group O is more protective against COVID and A is more severe,” Prof Senanayake said.

“It could mean that blood group O is less likely to cause clotting.”

Researchers are also beginning to identify new and peculiar symptoms of the virus including blistered feet and a loss of taste.

“The loss of smell can occur with quite a few viral infections that affect the upper respiratory tract and coronavirus as a group can be responsible,” Prof Senanayake said.

“It tends to effect the olfactory nerve, which is your nerve for smell.

“It can also cause a lot of inflammation in the nose and that can effect smell.”

One patient being treated for COVID-19 in Wuhan reported a change in his skin colour, however Prof Senanayake said this was more likely to do with the antibiotics opposed to the virus itself.

“Antibiotics, although they are wonderful at treating infections they all have side fix and everyone knows about getting diarrhoea and an itchy rash and it can ever weird things like change of skin colour,” he said.