Jada Pinkett Smith isn't allowing her alopecia-related hair loss dampen her positive demeanor. In a new Instagram video, the 50-year-old actress revealed a "sudden" new symptom of the condition while embracing the condition.
In the clip, the Red Table Talk host shows off her shaved head, which includes a new bald patch in the form of a line across the top of her head. "Mama's gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something," Pinkett Smith captioned the video. "Me and this alopecia are going to be friends…period!"
Pinkett Smith went on to explain in the video that the bald line showed up on her head one day, unexpectedly. "Now at this point, I can only laugh. Y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia and just all of a sudden one day, look at this line right here. Look at that," she said, pointing to her head. "So it just showed up like that and this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide. So I thought I'd just share it so y'all are not asking any questions."
Pinkett Smith first opened up about her alopecia in 2018 during an episode of her talk show. "A lot of people have been asking why I've been wearing turbans. Well, I haven't talked about it. It's not easy to talk about, but I am going to talk about it," she said, revealing that she was experiencing "issues with hair loss."
"It was terrifying when it first started. 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 continued. "It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking in fear. That's why I cut my hair, and why I continue to cut it," she added.
"My hair has been a big part of me," Pinkett Smith continued. "Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual and having the choice to have hair or not. And then one day to be like, 'Oh my god, I might not have that choice anymore.'"
According to Pinkett Smith, it was her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, who suggested that her hair loss may be alopecia-related. When she was first diagnosed, she shared that, though she'd seen several experts, no one had yet been able to find the source of her hair loss. "I've gotten every kind of test there is to have," she said. "They don't know why."
Medically speaking, alopecia is the term for baldness, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and there are three types of the condition: alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis. All three are technically autoimmune conditions, in which the body attacks its own hair follicles, resulting in different levels of hair loss, the AAD says.
Alopecia areata specifically, which is what Pinkett Smith seems to describe, is characterized by "patchy baldness." The hair loss can occur anywhere on the body (beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits), but many people who have it experience a bald patch (or patches) on their scalp. Alopecia totalis occurs when a person loses all the hair on their scalp, leaving it completely bald; alopecia universalis happens when a person loses all the hair on their body, leaving them entirely hairless, the AAD says.
According to the AAD, alopecia is largely unpredictable—hair may regrow without treatment, but even if it does regrow, it may or may not fall out again. These unpredictable cycles may occur for years. And while doctors aren't entirely sure what causes alopecia in any of its forms, they do believe there's a genetic component: If a parent or close blood relative has alopecia (or has had alopecia in the past), a child has an increased risk of developing the condition as well.
As for how Pinkett Smith is handling the hair loss, she seems to be fully embracing it. "You know mama's going to put some rhinestones in there," she said in her most recent Instagram post. "I'm going to make me a little crown. That's what mama's going to do."
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