Actor Will Smith who won the Academy Award for Best Actor, grabbed headlines when he slapped stand-up comic Chris Rock for making a joke about the former's wife Jada Pinkett Smith choosing to shave her head. Jada suffers from an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which leads to constant hair loss.
Smith smacked Rock after cameras captured a bemused Jada rolling her eyes at the remark. Jada has in the past been vocal about her journey with alopecia and the struggles related to the disease.
Rock while presenting an award joked that he was waiting to see Jada feature in the next installment of GI Jane 2 - alluding to her shaved head. Watch it here. Most of the actors in the GI Joe/ Jane movies are shown to be bald as the characters such as Roadblock of the American military toy line and comic series are shown as bald.
Alopecia broadly refers to a loss of hair.
BOOM spoke to Dr Resham Vasani Bhojani, a dermatologist and trichologist at Bhojani Clinics in Mumbai to understand how the journey with alopecia progresses and if there is a treatment for the same. "It depends on when the condition is diagnosed. If it is diagnosed at an early onset, there are more treatment options for the same," she said.
What Is Alopecia?
In the simplest of terms, alopecia means loss of hair. "Alopecia is a broad terminology for loss of hair. Hair loss could be due to autoimmune disorders, temporary loss due to stressors, male or female pattern balding," Dr. Bhojani explained.
Jada suffers from alopecia areata which is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body acts against its own hair follicles, thus leading to their loss. The immune system, however, does not completely lead to destruction of the follicle. This means that there is a possibility that the hair could regrow in the future.
The trichologist articulated that the autoimmune onset is typically accompanied by people dealing with other comorbidities. "Alopecia areata is also genetic. It is also more likely for people with thyroid, diabetes, hypertension to showcase patchy hair loss which can be treated if diagnosed on time," Dr. Bhojani added.
How Is It Different From Hair Fall?
Hair loss and hair fall differ on the basis of regrowth of hair follicles. When a clear bald patch arises, it does become difficult for the hair to regrow.
Stress-related hair fall is another commonly reported complaint that trichologists are dealing with currently. There have been an increasing number of people reporting hair fall after recuperating from COVID or after pregnancy. Such hair fall is called Telogen effluvium.
Along with telogen effluvium, alopecia can also be of different types. Areata has creation of bald patches, totalis is complete baldness, while universalis is loss of hair from all parts of the body. Alopecia areats can also be observed on the beard for men, eye lashes for both genders.
Jada has been detected with areata and has chosen to go completely bald. In an Instagram post, she shared that she chose to shave her hair and showed a new emerging bald line.
What Are The Possible Treatments?
Dr. Bhojani informed that there are ways to treat and regrow hair but if a person with severe alopecia (universalis) goes off treatment, there is a possibility of hair not regrowing.
"If detected early, it definitely can be treated well. There are multiple modalities of treatment such as topical applications, injections for affected areas, treatment and medication," Dr, Bhojani said to BOOM.
She concluded by saying that the age of onset and the extent of alopecia along with the other associated medical conditions that a person suffers from also govern what kind of treatment is suitable for the patient.
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