What Is Alopecia, What Causes Gail Porter And Jada Pinkett Smith’s Hair Loss And Are Treatments Are Available?


HISTORY dictates that hair is seen as a sign of social significance with a strong head of hair still regarded as an indicator of good health and youth.

However some people experience hair loss, which is known as alopecia, and is a condition some people find difficult to come to terms with. Here’s the lowdown…

Instagram Jada Pinkett Smith has recently gone public about suffering from alopecia

What is alopecia areata?

This particular condition causes patches of baldness about the size of a large coin – both men and women are equally affected.

Alopecia areata can occur at any age but most cases first develop in teenagers and children.

At least half of the people with the condition develop their first patch of hair loss before they are 21-years-old.

They usually appear on the scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.

Getty – Contributor The condition commonly manifests itself in teenagers and young adults

In most cases of alopecia areata, hair will grow back in a few months.

At first, hair may grow back fine and white, but over time it should thicken and regain its normal colour.

Some people go on to develop a more severe form of hair loss, such as alopecia totalis (no scalp hair) and alopecia universalis (no hair on the scalp and body).

Alopecia areata is caused by a problem with the immune system and it is more common among people who have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), diabetes or Down’s syndrome.

Causes of hair loss

An illness Stress Cancer treatment Weight loss Iron deficiency

What is the treatment for alopecia?

For the more common types of hair loss, such as male and female pattern baldness, treatment is not necessarily needed because it is a natural part of ageing.

However, there are possible treatments which can be explored and anyone concerned should speak to their GP.

Alopecia areata is usually treated with steroid injections, although it’s sometimes possible to use a steroid cream, gel or ointment.

Getty Images – Getty The star says she’s incorporating head scarfs into her outfits as a fashion statement

What’s Jada Pinkett Smith’s experience of it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is the latest celebrity to go public about suffering from the condition.

The 46-year-old American actress, businesswoman and wife of Will Smith opened up about her struggle on her Facebook chat show, Red Table Talk.

She said: “I’ve been getting a lot of questions about why I’ve been wearing this turban.

“Well, I’ve been having issues with hair loss. And it was terrifying when it first started.”

While doctors are yet to identify a cause, Smith believes it’s likely to be stress-related.

Jada is determined not to be perturbed by her hair loss though and says she’s begun wearing scarves on her head as a fashion statement.

She said: “When my hair is wrapped, I feel like a queen.”

Instagram Jada Pinkett Smith has recently gone public about suffering from alopecia

Does Gail Porter have alopecia?

Gail Porter was a TV presenter, model and actress, with her hey dey during the 1990s.

She posed nude for mags such as FHM, with a naked photo of her even projected onto the Houses of Parliament.

The 47-year-old presented shows such as such as Blue Peter and Top of the Pops.

A nude photo of Gail was projected onto the Houses of Parliament

In 2005, Gail developed alopecia totalis, where you lose all the hair from your head.

She revealed that she also lost her eyebrows and eyelashes.

Over the years her hair has partially grown back and then fall out again.

Gail chooses not to wear a wig, going au natural and totally bald, in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.

Getty – Contributor Gail chooses not wear a wig to raise awareness of the condition

Is alopecia different from male-pattern baldness?

Alopecia is a medical term for hair loss, and male-pattern baldness is the most common type affecting around half of all men by 50 years of age.

It usually starts around the late twenties or early thirties and most men have some degree of hair loss by their late thirties.

It generally follows a pattern of a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples, leaving a horseshoe shape around the back and sides of the head.

Male-pattern baldness is hereditary, which means it runs in families and thought to be caused by oversensitive hair follicles.

Alamy Male-pattern baldness is the most common type affecting men

As well as affecting men, it can sometimes affect women and the hair usually only thins on top of the head.

It’s not clear if it is hereditary and the causes are less well understood.

While slightly more common in men, female-pattern baldness is also a very real problem, with up to two-thirds of women experiencing hair loss after menopause.

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