Actor Will Smith punched comedian Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards, after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith's bald head. Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia.
Jada Pinkett Smith has spoken about her struggle with hair loss and coming to terms with alopecia areata, and how it's taken her years to accept it. So what is alopecia?
Alopecia, or alopecia areata, is an autoimmune disorder that causes hairfall in clumps. There are different types of alopecia and it usually occurs in women aged 30-50.
The amount of hair loss is different in everyone. Some people only lose hair in a few spots. Others lose a lot more. For some people it stops or eases up on its own, and for others it continues for life.
Are you at risk of alopecia? What can you do if you think you suffer from alopecia? Here's everything you need to know.
Types of Alopecia
The most commonly reported alopecia is alopecia areata, which causes hairfall in small clumps, the size of a coin. But there are multiple types of alopecia that can affect women and men.
Alopecia areata totalis - This type of alopecia leads to the loss of all the hair on your head.
Alopecia areata universalis - Alopecia where you lose hair from all over your body, not just your head.
Androgenic alopecia - You'll know androgenetic alopecia by its more common name - Male Pattern Baldness. It's the type that affects men. This is the only symptom of the condition - hairfall.
Diffuse alopecia areata - This type of alopecia causes a sudden THINNING of hair rather than hairfall.
Causes of Alopecia
As far as doctors know, a genetic history or family history of baldness or hair loss is one of the main causes of alopecia.
Alopecia is similar to an autoimmune disease, in that your body attacks its own cells. In the case of alopecia, these cells are simply your hair follicles.
Other potential causes include seasonal allergies, asthma, genetic predisposition to alopecia, stress, thyroid disease, vitiligo, and even Down syndrome.
The truth is, doctors have still been unable to identify and narrow down one specific cause for alopecia.
Treatment For Alopecia
Alopecia treatment might include some of the following approaches:
Corticosteroids - Corticosteroids are prescribed, usually, for autoimmune disorders and they can be administered as either a pill, a cream, or an injection to the affected areas. They usually take a long time to show results.
Immunotherapy - Immunotherapy or Topical Immunotherapy in this case, targets the specific region with chemicals to produce an allergic reaction. This leads to a rash, but also hair growth!
Minoxidil - Minoxidil is a hair fall medicine that's often prescribed to men for hair regrowth. It's applied directly to the scalp and is currently often recommended for male pattern baldness.
Read more about alopecia here.