By Sandra Rose  | 

ANGELA WEISS,ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Will Smith's assault on Oscars host Chris Rock shined a spotlight on Jada Pinkett Smith's medical condition on Sunday.

Smith, 53, walked onstage and slapped host Chris Rock, 57, after the comedian cracked a joke about Pinkett Smith's alopecia (hair loss).

Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

Pinkett Smith, 50, announced her struggle with hair loss in 2018. She shaved her hair in 2021 after daughter, Willow Smith (2nd from left), had previously shaved her head.

Pinkett Smith frequently discussed her alopecia diagnosis in her popular Facebook series "Red Table Talk."

"My hair has been a big part of me," she said in 2018. "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.'"

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is caused by the immune system attacking the scalp and hair follicles. The condition is characterized by round or oval smooth, shiny patches of skin on the scalp. Smooth, shiny skin means the hair follicle is destroyed and hair will never grow from the follicle.

Alopecia areata occurs when the immune system mistakes healthy scalp cells for foreign invaders and attacks the scalp and follicles.

Is There a Cure for Alopecia?

There is no cure for alopecia areata but treatment can prevent the disease from progressing to Alopecia Totalis -- total loss of all the hair on the head. A small percentage of people will also suffer total hair loss on their body. Alopecia areata is not contagious and can't spread to others in your family.

Treatment for Alopecia

Treatment for alopecia areata includes steroidal pills, creams or ointments to decrease inflammation. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is used in addition to steroidal creams. Hair growth may return in 8-12 weeks.

Natural treatment includes aromatherapy, acupuncture, microneedling, probiotics, laser therapy, vitamins like zinc and biotin, and aloe vera drinks.

Doctors also recommend applying essential oils like tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint directly to the scalp.

It's important to dilute essentials oils in a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil, to minimize irritation to the scalp.
 
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