In August, actress Alyssa Milano tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies after falling ill in the spring. Several months later, she opened up about being a COVID-19 “long hauler” after experiencing a range of symptoms and side effects for months after recovering, including heart palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath, memory problems, and more.
One lingering side effect in particular prompted Milano to share an Instagram video to highlight the severity of what she’s been dealing with: hair loss. “Thought I’d show you what COVID-19 does to your hair. Please take this seriously,” Milano wrote in the caption, as chunks of hair fell from her head while she brushed. “One brushing, this is my hair loss,” she said in the clip. “Wear a damn mask.”
According to a survey by Survivor Corps, a Facebook support group for people who have had COVID-19, and Natalie Lambert, Ph.D., of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, hair loss is among the 50 most common effects reported by COVID-19 “long haulers,” patients who have survived COVID-19 but still suffer from side effects long after their initial illness.
This form of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium, which is temporary shedding caused by intense stress on the body. In fact, it often happens after a severe illness, dramatic weight loss, or giving birth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
The good news: Telogen effluvium usually peaks about four months after the stressful event that spurred it, per the AAD. So, within six to nine months, hair should start growing back and eventually return to its normal fullness.
And according to hairstylist Linh Nguyen, Milano is finally seeing results after trying products for thinning hair, per People. “I told Alyssa, ‘Stop brushing your hair, we’re sending you Nioxin treatments right away,’” he said. Milano is specifically using the Nioxin System 6 Kit and the Nioxin Minoxidil Hair Regrowth Treatment.
The kit contains a shampoo, conditioner, and scalp and hair treatment, which pack ingredients to support a healthy scalp and reduce breakage, including biotin and hydolyzed silk. The Hair Regrowth Treatment, on the other hand, contains minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine), a first-line hair regrowth treatment for androgenetic alopecia.
According to Nguyen, this combination of products is working well for Milano. “The best text I got this week was Alyssa saying her hair is doing much better and she’s continuing the Nioxin regimen,” he said. “Her hair feels thicker and she’s happy with the results.”
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