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Here’s what to know about Alopecia, the hair-loss condition Jada Pinkett Smith lives with

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 2:27 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT
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(CNN) - It was a shocking moment in Oscars history that people are still talking about -- Will Smith’s on-stage slap after Chris Rock made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

The controversy is bringing attention to a condition with which millions of Americans struggle called alopecia.

The condition results in the loss of hair.

”It’s estimated that about 200,000 Americans are affected by alopecia areata every year,” said Dr. Alok Vij, director of the Dermatology Residency Program at Cleveland Clinic.

Vij said alopecia typically starts before the age of 30 but can also begin later. It begins with a small patch or clump of hair falling out.

”There are very few cases where your hair can actually turn white as a sign that there’s a inflammation going on before you actually lose hair, but more commonly you just notice that your hair falls out in a small area,” he said.

If you lose a clump of hair, go see your doctor because it could be alopecia or may be a sign of another illness.

”Autoimmune problems run together commonly, so we often will test for vitamin D deficiency or thyroid levels to make sure we’re not missing something else,” Vij said.

There is no cure, and treatments vary based on the severity of the condition.

For mild alopecia, topical steroids or medication may be used. Severe cases require different treatment.

”There are a number of other treatments we have available, all designed to tease the immune system to work a little bit differently and stop attacking the hair follicle,” Vij said.

The doctor said when it comes to alopecia, it is important to address the emotional toll the condition can take on patients who suffer from it.

Sometimes, talking about the condition with family, friends or even a professional counselor can help boost a patient’s self-image.

Jada Pinkett Smith later made her first statement since the incident via Instagram.

“This is a season for healing and I’m here for it,” she posted Tuesday morning.

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