What to know about alopecia — the disease Will Smith’s wife is battling

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Not many expected the recent drama between Will Smith, the US actor, and Chris Rock, the comedian, at the 2022 Oscars.

The film star, 53, had slapped Rock, 57, after he made a joke about the bald appearance of Jada Pinkett, his wife.

Jada is suffering from alopecia — a disorder which causes hair loss.

In December last year, the actress had disclosed her battle with the autoimmune disease in an Instagram post.

“Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!” she had written.

It remains to be seen if Rock was aware of Jada’s battle with the health condition prior to his now-controversial joke.

But the incident has made the disease a subject of discussion on social media.

Amid the controversy trailing the drama, TheCable Lifestyle examines all you need to know about alopecia.

WHAT IS ALOPECIA?

Alopecia is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss.

When you have alopecia, the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles — structures in the skin that form the hair, causing them to shrink and dramatically slow down hair production.

The amount of hair loss is different for everyone. Some people lose it only in a few spots. Others lose a lot.

According to a report, about 6.8 million people in the United States and 147 million worldwide have or will develop alopecia at some point in their lives.

Alopecia can develop in people at any age but a study revealed that most people experience the condition before the age of 40.

TYPES OF ALOPECIA

Alopecia has three common types which are listed and explained below:

  • Alopecia areata

This is the patchy type. When one has this type, there are one or more coin-sized patches of hair loss on the skin or body.

  • Alopecia totalis

People with this type lose all or nearly all of the hair on their scalp.

  • Alopecia universalis

This is a rare type. Here, there is a complete or nearly complete loss of hair on the scalp, body, chest, back, pubic part, and the face — eyebrows and eyelashes.

WHAT CAUSES ALOPECIA?

At the moment, no research has established the major cause of alopecia.

However, a study said genetic and environmental factors — particularly stress — play a role.

A similar study also showed one in five people with alopecia areata belongs to a family member who has experienced the condition.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALOPECIA?

The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss. Hair usually falls out in small patches on the scalp, beard, eyelashes, and other parts of the body.

Alopecia also affects the nails. Dull nails, rough nails, thin and split nails can be symptoms of alopecia.

IS ALOPECIA CURABLE?

Alopecia has no cure at the moment. However, there are ways to treat it.

The most common treatment is the use of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system.

Another way to treat it is by taking an “anti-inflammatory” diet. This means a diet containing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Such a diet helps to reduce the autoimmune response in the body and decrease the chances of further hair loss.