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Oscars controversy brings disease to the forefront

Actor Will Smith's physical reaction to a joke by comedian Chris Rock about actress Jada Pinkett's recent hairstyle has started a conversation on female hair loss.

LOS ANGELES — What may have been deemed as the most shocking moment in Academy Award history has also sparked conversation about many topics, especially the topic of alopecia and female hair loss.

Jada Pinkett Smith has been very vocal recently about her battles with hair loss. The Poetic Justice actress revealed back in 2018 during an episode of Red Table Talk that she had been diagnosed with alopecia. During the episode, Pinkett talked about how washing her hair one day became a nightmare when she had first started experiencing her hair loss. 

"I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, am I going bald,'" she said.

Fast forward to last night's Oscar Academy Awards. During the awards, Comedian Chris Rock made a joke about the actress and her recent haircut. Joking that he couldn't wait to see her in a new G.I. Jane movie, comparing the actress to the buzzcut received by actress Demi Moore for the 1997 film. As a result, things got physical when actor Will Smith rushed to the stage and slapped the comedian. 

The recent controversy has made many ask the question, what is alopecia? 

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, is a disease that develops when the body attacks its own hair follicles. This as a result can cause hair loss anywhere on the body.  

Alopecia can not only affect hair growth but also nail growth. A sign of alopecia can often be expressed as a person may start to notice their nails aren't as strong, according to the AADA. Or you may notice dents, ridges and brittle nail structure. 

Alopecia can begin at any age, most people develop it during their childhood or earlier teenage years, as reported by the AADA.

There are three types of Alopecia: What are they?

According to the AADA, there are three types of common forms of alopecia:

Alopecia Areata: This form of alopecia can create bald patches anywhere on the body, including the scalp, beard area, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, inside your nose or ears.

Alopecia Totalis: In this form of alopecia people tend to lose all hair on the scalp, so the scalp is completely bald.

Alopecia Universalis: This is a more severe but rare form of hair loss. As a person with this form of alopecia loses all hair, leaving the entire body hairless. 

Is there a cure?

There are studies that are being conducted in order to find a cure for hair loss, according to the AADA. For those who experience Alopecia in earlier stages of their life, hair growth can be seen within 12 months without treatment, as reported by the AADA.

Jada Smith has continued to be an advocate for women with alopecia since sharing her journey. Back in December Smith had posted this video on her Instagram about her hair loss:

According to a study done in 2016 by the Black Women's Health Study at Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center out of 5,594 African-American women who had completed the survey, 47.6 percent reported hair loss on the crown or top of the scalp.

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