The Oscars 2022 held on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, USA, was indeed a lavish affair, but not without its share of major controversy. Besides a bevy of stars gracing the occasion dressed in fashionable attires and winning over 94th Academy Awards, the stunning slap of actor Will Smith that landed on one of the presenters for the night, Chris Rock, following a joke made on his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, rocked the entire world.

While this emotional outburst by Will Smith to a jibe directed at his wife – Jada Pinkett Smith’s hairstyle is being debated extensively by the press, be it print, radio, television or social media, a comment being passed about a woman’s looks in the excuse of humour is no longer acceptable.
Willsmith and his wife

Moreover, the exact comment that prompted such an angry response by Will Smith was this. Chris Rock, while making funny statements about many of the nominees of the night, said to Jada, “Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see you”, indicating her buzz cut hairstyle – a very closely cropped short hairdo. This is formally sported by officials in the U.S. military and was even flaunted by actress Demi Moore in the G.I. Jane 1 movie, wherein she played a female officer in the U.S. Navy. This joke was evidently not well-received by Jada, who reacted by prominently rolling her eyes, making it clear she was not pleased with the insulting “witty remark”.

The reason being this – Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that triggers widespread hair loss and hence was not happy at being humiliated for a disease she was suffering from since 2018. Undoubtedly, Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett Smith was not in good taste, but it is also important to realise that alopecia areata, although not a life-threatening illness, is not an easy ailment to live with and manage, more so for actresses in show business, who are unfortunately, still expected by society at large, to look gorgeous no matter their age or underlying health issues. The need of the hour is hence, to understand what this sickness is, along with its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Also Read: Autoimmune Disease: Learn What It Is About

What Is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is a health anomaly that prompts hair to fall out in patches. At first, the hair loss many not be obvious, but with more patches of scarce hair follicles on the scalp, it becomes extremely noticeable. It is an autoimmune disorder, wherein the immune system in the body recognizes its own hair follicles as foreign invading substances and attacks the tissues, thereby inducing hair loss.

The falling of hair in alopecia areata may take place suddenly or gradually, with strands of hair falling from the scalp, as well as the eyebrows, eyelashes, face and other parts of the body. The medical terminology for bald/hair loss is alopecia, with areata meaning patchy, thereby giving this disease its designation of alopecia areata.

What Causes Alopecia Areata?

The exact cause of alopecia areata is not yet known, but doctors and medical researchers have established that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is what triggers this disease. Certain genetic defects may instigate the autoimmune reaction of the body targeting the hair cells, or viral infections in the system’s environment could result in patchy hair loss.

Furthermore, people who have parents or close family members already diagnosed with alopecia areata are predisposed to acquiring this autoimmune disorder. People who have family members with other autoimmune conditions like diabetes, lupus, thyroid disease are also at a higher risk of contracting alopecia areata.
Woman with Alopecia Areata

What Are The Symptoms Of Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata can affect both men and women alike at any age and presents with distinguishing indications, including:

  • Patchy hair loss, with coin-sized small spots of baldness in the scalp
  • Hair loss from the eyebrows, eyelashes, face, beard, mustache and other regions in the body
  • Itching and burning sensation in the vicinity of hair loss
  • Immense levels of anxiety due to expansive hair fall
  • Tiny dents in nails

How Is Alopecia Areata Treated?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition and since the immune system begins to destroy its own hair follicles, this disease has no cure. Nevertheless, at least half the percentage of total people afflicted by alopecia areata recover fully from the condition, once the inflammation in the hair follicles slowly reduces and ceases. But in quite a few cases, it results in complete hair loss termed as alopecia universalis, in which hair does not grow back again, thus making this autoimmune disease a very unpredictable malady.

Treatment for alopecia areata entails prescription medicines such as oral steroids and immunosuppressants as well as topical steroids and hair growth-promoting creams, to prevent massive hair loss, stimulate the growth of new hair from the roots and lower inflammation at the site of follicles. In some instances, steroid injections and light therapy/phototherapy are also administered on the scalp and other areas of hair loss, to aid in the regrowth of hair in bald patches.

Furthermore, the patient is advised to follow an anti-inflammatory diet known as the autoimmune protocol diet, along with taking vitamin and mineral supplements like zinc, biotin by the doctor, to help alleviate the symptoms of alopecia areata, abbreviated as AA.

Also Read: Autoimmune Protocol Diet: Discover The Benefits And How It Can Boost The Immune Response

Hair-fortifying natural ingredients like aloe vera gel, red onion hair oil and aromatherapy to ease anxiety, stress due to persistent hair loss are also recommended by the doctor, to help the patient effectively manage and reverse patchy hair loss due to alopecia areata.