Alopecia Areata Explained!

Chris Rock and Will Smith’s recent altercation at the 94th Academy Awards brought attention to Jada Smith’s medical condition. So, why was Smith offended by Chris Rock’s joke? How did Jada Pinkett Smith manage to lose all of her hair?

It’s worth noting that Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, suffers from Alopecia Areata, where one loses hair on almost all of one’s body parts due to the destruction of hair follicles. Because of this condition, Jada Smith has demonstrated a more bald appearance over recent years. I think it’s better to focus on learning what Alopecia Areata is instead of choosing sides in this controversy.

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata

The condition of alopecia areata, or spot baldness, is an autoimmune disorder caused by the body attacking its hair follicles. Alopecia areata is a widespread disease known to affect 1 in every 5 people in the USA.

In addition to hair loss from a specific region or all body parts, some patients may experience nail colour changes from time to time as well. This disease causes small patches of baldness, leading to complete baldness.

Causes Of Alopecia Areata

An autoimmune condition occurs when the body considers some of its cells as foreign cells and tries to protect itself by destroying them. In the case of alopecia areata, the T-Lymphocytes that constitute the immune system believe the hair follicles to be their enemy and attack them.

A family history of autoimmune disorders like diabetes and arthritis can make one vulnerable to alopecia. Apart from genetic factors, environmental conditions like persistent stress and physical injuries may also lead to alopecia areata.

In this condition, T-lymphocytes are white blood cells that grow in the region around the hair follicles and kill them. This situation is called Lymphocytic infiltration in medical terminology. In some cases, the IgG antibodies can damage hair follicles, causing alopecia areata. 

Symptoms Of Alopecia Areata

Loss of hair on the scalp or other body parts like the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, or even nose is the most significant symptom of alopecia areata. People may regrow their hair only to lose it again. While some people may lose hair from some areas, others may lose all the hair on their bodies. This is called Alopecia Universalis.

Patients may experience spontaneous hair loss, which is unpredictable in every way. However, hair loss varies from person to person, often leading to complete baldness from the disease referred to as Alopecia Totalis.

Additionally, you may notice white spots on the back of your head made up of the accumulation of T-Lymphocytes. Individuals suffering from alopecia are also susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis, hypothyroidism, etc.

Treatment Of Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata does not have a permanent cure, but there are treatments to slow down hair loss and induce hair growth. The treatment is a hit-and-miss procedure as the course of this disease is forever fluctuating.

Topical agents like Anthralin, Minoxidil, and Corticosteroid creams stimulate hair growth in alopecia patients. It is possible to inject these steroids into the bloodstream or administer them via oral consumption. Even Cyclosporine and Methotrexate are immunosuppressants used to treat this disease.

Other treatments include aromatherapy, light therapy, low-level laser therapy, and microneedling. Some people also prefer essential oils and aloe vera for natural healing.

What Disease Does Will Smith’s Wife Have?

Hairstyle and hair length have always been important factors to define femininity in the patriarchal setup. In pre-modern times, the thickness of a woman’s hair was considered an indicator of her beauty. From this, we can imagine how difficult it is for a woman to go bald and face society.

Four years ago, Jada Pinkett Smith announced in an episode of ‘Red Table Talk’ about her condition of alopecia areata. Since then, she has been using turbans to cover her hair and even recently shaved her head off after disclosing her decision on Instagram in December 2021; the post’s caption read, “down to the scalp, so nobody thinks (I) got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… period!”

Jada’s honesty and boldness at times like these are commendable. Alopecia may have garnered her attention but not shame.

Does Jada Pinkett Smith Have Cancer?

Most cancer patients shave their heads due to chemotherapy, and many speculated that Will Smith’s wife Jada might have cancer. But to get your facts right, she doesn’t have cancer, and her hair loss is due to the condition of alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder, not cancer. 

To avoid the inconvenience of losing her hair over time, she chose to shave it all herself. And very recently, she also shared about the appearance of lumps on her scalp due to alopecia.

Closing The Loop

Setting aside the perils of making a joke about one’s disease and violence at an event like the Oscars, it takes a lot of courage to be a star and not care about people’s unnecessary comments on your disease. Jada Pinkett Smith deserves a bow for battling this disease with confidence, and we hope she recovers from this unpredictable disease.