Alyssa Milano holds clump of hair to show lingering coronavirus effects

The actress shared a video that she says illustrates the hair loss she has endured more than four months after first experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
/ Source: TODAY

Alyssa Milano is sharing the latest disturbing symptom she says has been part of her ongoing struggle with coronavirus: hair loss.

The actress posted a video on Twitter Sunday of herself brushing her hair to illustrate the hair loss she is enduring, more than four months after she said she first began feeling COVID-19 symptoms.

"I just wanted to show you the amount of hair that's coming out of my head as a result of COVID," she said in the video.

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Using a detangler brush, she reveals clumps coming out nearly every time she brushes her hair and then holds up a chunk to the camera.

"One brushing, this is my hair loss from COVID-19," she said. "Wear a damn mask."

Milano, 47, is not alone: 27% of patients recovering from COVID-19 reported hair loss as an ongoing issue in a survey of more than 1,500 people in the Survivor Corp Facebook group.

Doctors attribute the hair loss to a temporary condition known as telogen effluvium in which people experience excessive hair shedding after events or conditions like surgery, high fever, illness, extreme weight loss or giving birth.

The actress wrote on Instagram last week that she lost nine pounds in two weeks in April after initially experiencing symptoms in late March.

"I had never been this kind of sick," she wrote. "Everything hurt. Loss of smell. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t keep food in me. I lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks. I was confused. Low grade fever. And the headaches were horrible. I basically had every Covid symptom."

She added that over the next four months she also experienced "vertigo, stomach abnormalities, irregular periods, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, zero short term memory, and general malaise."

After a pair of negative COVID-19 tests, she took an antibody test from a lab that she said tested positive for antibodies, meaning she had the illness.

"I just want you to be aware that our testing system is flawed and we don’t know the real numbers," she wrote. "I also want you to know, this illness is not a hoax. I thought I was dying. It felt like I was dying."

Milano used the hashtag #LongHauler on her Twitter post in reference to the group of coronavirus patients who continue to experience symptoms months after their initial diagnosis.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, spoke on TODAY last month about the issues faced by long haulers.

"What we’re seeing is that this is a byproduct of the inflammation from the virus itself," he said. "In other words, dead fragments of virus elicit an immune response. And as a result of this, the body reacts and produces certain types of substances that can really have adverse effects."