Actress Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about her struggles with alopecia areata in an emotional Instagram post on Monday, May 16, 2017. Smith, who has starred in several popular movies such as The Matrix Reloaded, Madagascar and Gotham, wrote that she has been secretly struggling with the condition since the age of 7. She said that she was diagnosed with alopecia when she was 7 years old and has suffered from terrible pain and confusion as a result of it.
What Is Alopecia?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that can cause hair loss in some or all areas of the body. Symptoms include bald patches, thinning hair, and rashes on the scalp. The skin around the hair follicles may become inflamed or develop open sores called alopecia areata plaques. It is not contagious. There is no cure for alopecia areata, but treatments are available to relieve symptoms and prevent further hair loss.
Consequences of Alopecia
Alopecia is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. This causes the body to produce less and less hairs until they stop growing altogether. The most common form of this disease, Alopecia Areata, produces symptoms on both head and body. It can cause patchy baldness on the scalp and/or reduced hair density or a complete loss of hair anywhere on the body including eyebrows and eyelashes.
Who is most likely to get affected by it?
If you have alopecia areata, then your immune system is attacking the hair follicles on your scalp and stopping them from growing. It can also happen in other parts of the body such as eyelashes and eyebrows, too. It’s not contagious, but like other autoimmune diseases it tends to run in families, meaning there’s a chance if one parent has it that a child could get it.
What are the causes of alopecia?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys its own healthy cells. While researchers aren’t sure what causes this malfunction, they know that it may be related to stress or genetics. Sometimes people with a family history of alopecia lose their hair without any other symptoms as well.
How can you prevent this from happening?
Although there is no cure for alopecia areata, there are many treatments that can be used to slow down the progress of the disease. In addition to regularly grooming their hair to hide bald patches, people who have alopecia areata may need to wear wigs or hats as they will never get their hair back on its own. They may also need medication and in some cases skin grafts to keep the condition under control.
11 Ways to Manage Flare-Ups
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, treatments for alopecia areata include immunosuppressive medications, such as corticosteroids, or psychotherapeutic interventions. Patients can also experience an acute flare-up or exacerbation (flare) of their symptoms after months or years of having limited or no symptoms. The following treatments may help decrease the severity and frequency of these flares:
- Stay away from irritating fabrics, including wool and nylon, which cause further hair loss
- Use gentle shampoo and conditioner with moisturizing ingredients
- Wear light hats that cover your scalp when outdoors
- Keep your hands off your head to avoid further hair loss
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Try some natural remedies like peppermint oil, rosemary extract, vitamin E oil and more
- Avoid hot baths
- Take a break from tight hairstyles
- Be patient because it takes time to find the right treatment
- Avoid anything you know will trigger a flare up
- Talk about it . Find someone who understands what you’re going through
- And remember that there is always hope!
The role of stress in alopecia areata
The stress is what causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles, causing them to fall out and never grow back. This can be hard on an individual’s self-esteem, but it’s important to remember that you are still beautiful without hair. It takes a certain level of self-acceptance to come to terms with the idea that you won’t have hair ever again. You need support too!
Treatments for alopeica areata
Treatment for alopecia areata will depend on the severity of your condition. In its more severe forms, it may necessitate therapies such as chemotherapy and corticosteroids to help limit hair loss. Other treatments include immunotherapy, surgical removal of the areas that are producing too much hair, or treatment with oral or topical steroids. If you have moderate to mild cases, then you may opt for psychotherapy to help deal with anxiety and depression related to hair loss.