A growing number of COVID-19 survivors often referred to as "long-haulers" — people who've been experiencing symptoms for months instead of the average of two weeks the World Health Organization (WHO) says is the usual span — have been sharing their personal experiences with the disease on social media. Oftentimes, they reveal that they're suffering from symptoms that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not indicate as COVID-19 symptoms, like hair loss. And now, Alyssa Milano has become one of the highest-profile survivors to reveal she's been experiencing exactly that.
"Hi, everybody. I just wanted to show you the amount of hair that's coming out of my head as a result of COVID," Milano says in a new Instagram video, holding her up favorite detangling brush to show there's no hair between the bristles before she starts brushing. After passing it through her hair several times, she pulls an undeniably alarming amount of hair from her head — clearly much more than she's used to seeing come loose with brushing.
"One brushing. This is my hair loss from COVID-19," she says, holding up the clump of hair. "Wear a damn mask."
Milano is one of many survivors blaming COVID-19 for their hair loss. A recent survey conducted by Natalie Lambert, an associate research professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, and Survivor Corps, a grass-roots organization that connects COVID-19 survivors with resources, showed that out of more than 1,500 long-haulers who participated, 423 said they experienced hair loss.
According to Cassandra Pierre, a physician specializing in infectious diseases and the medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, it may not be the disease itself that causes the excess shedding. "There are so many things that people are attributing to COVID-19. Many of them really are directly applicable, and we are learning more and more about this every day or at least every week," she tells Allure. "It probably is not a specific effect of the disease, but more related to the stress the disease causes itself."