PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers are finding unusual symptoms related to COVID-19 — one being hair loss. Actress Alyssa Milano, who says she’s recovering from the coronavirus, is on social media showing people what can happen.
Doctors say they’re seeing a growing number of cases of “shock hair loss” due to what they’re calling pandemic stress.
Milano, who initially tested negative, says she had traditional symptoms — a fever, trouble breathing and headaches. And then four months later, she posted a video of what happened.
“I just wanted to show you the amount of hair coming out of my head as a result of COVID,” said Milano.
Milano posted a video on Twitter, demonstrating hair loss she blames on having been infected with COVID-19.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 9, 2020
“One brushing, this is my hair loss from COVID-19. Wear a damn mask,” she said.
While it is not a symptom on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official list, a recent survey found about 26% of people with long-term coronavirus symptoms said they experienced hair loss.
The 1,500 patients interviewed were asked about symptoms not on the CDC list — things like weight gain, clogged ears and hair loss.
“This is a new virus, we’re always learning things from it,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
It’s unclear if there’s a direct connection to the virus but some doctors think the hair loss could be related to the stress of having COVID-19.
They say there’s generally a two- to three-month lag between a stressful event and the onset of hair loss, which is why we’re seeing these patients now.
“When there’s a big stress, whether it’s physical, emotional, you get sick, anxiety — really any big shock to your system can push up to 50% of those hairs prematurely into your shedding phase,” said Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal.
Doctors say that shock hair loss isn’t unusual and is commonly experienced by women a few weeks after childbirth.
It usually grows back on its own within about six months but reducing stress and a healthy diet can help.
“We know things like protein are the building blocks for our hair, our skin, our nails, so make sure you’re eating a diet, you know, that has a higher protein,” Dr. Khetarpal said.
Researchers are investigating whether there’s a direct link between the virus and hair loss.
Milano, who says she felt like she was dying, wants people to know the virus is not a hoax and that she’ll be donating plasma blood in hopes of helping others.