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Alyssa Milano made an Instagram video to show her followers the impacts that COVID-19 have had on her hair.
The actress says she's been dealing with hair loss as a side effect of her novel coronavirus hospitalization in April.
Alyssa describes herself as a COVID-19 "long-hauler," meaning her symptoms have persisted since her initial diagnosis.
Alyssa Milano took to Instagram to implore her followers to take COVID-19 seriously, just days after revealing on Twitter that she was hospitalized for the disease in April. Her latest side effect? Hair loss.
Alyssa posted a video to Instagram in which she brushes her hair using a detangler brush. "As you can see, in there, there is no hair," she says, before running it through her hair and pulling out four clumps of hair. "One brushing. This is my hair loss from COVID-19. Wear a damn mask," she says."
"Thought I’d show you what #Covid19 does to your hair," Milano captioned the video. "Please take this seriously. #WearADamnMask #LongHauler."
Milano first used the term "long-hauler" to describe her illness in her tweet on Saturday, placing herself in the group of coronavirus patients who reported long-term symptoms lasting several months after they test positive for the virus. According The Atlantic, long-haulers have formed support groups on platforms like Slack and Facebook, sharing experiences of how the virus has left them debilitated.
"I was acutely sick w/ Covid19 in April. I still have many symptoms. I am what they call a 'long hauler,' " Alyssa tweeted. "Last night, I had real heaviness in my chest. I went to the ER just to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot. Thankfully, it wasn’t."
I was acutely sick w/ Covid19 in April. I still have many symptoms. I am what they call a “long hauler”. Last night, I had real heaviness in my chest. I went to the ER just to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
This virus sucks. Please take it seriously. pic.twitter.com/JcMkVSNn4y
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 9, 2020
“It is mild relative to dying in a hospital, but this virus has ruined my life,” another long-hauler named Vonny LeClerc told The Atlantic. “Even reading a book is challenging and exhausting. What small joys other people are experiencing in lockdown—yoga, bread baking—are beyond the realms of possibility for me.”
Though hair loss hasn't been reported as a symptom of most COVID-19 cases, a study on "long-haulers" conducted by Indiana University School of Medicine showed that over 400 "long-hauler" patients (out of 1,500 surveyed) experienced hair loss.
Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, said in a report that patients who contracted the virus several months ago are now reporting hair loss as a long-term side effect.
“We are seeing patients who had COVID-19 two to three months ago and are now experiencing hair loss. I think the timing is really crucial,” Dr. Khetarpal said, diagnosing it as telogen effluvium, a "nonscarring hair loss that is the result of an abnormal shift in follicular cycling," which often happens two or three months after bodily trauma. (The Cleveland Clinic's full report on COVID-19 and hair loss is available here, listing risk factors and management resources.)
"Essentially, it is a temporary hair loss from excessive shedding due to a shock to the system," Dr. Khetarpal said. "There are several common triggers, such as surgery, major physical or psychological trauma, any kind of infection or high fever, extreme weight loss or a change in diet."
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