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Central Indiana dermatologist shares information on alopecia after Jada Pinkett Smith joke at the Oscars

The disease affects men and women equally
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Posted at 10:54 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 22:54:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — After an incident at Sunday's Oscars where actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock after he made a joke about his wife's baldness, an Ascension St. Vincent dermatologist is sharing more about the condition.

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith disclosed four years ago that she has alopecia and it's the reason she has shaved her head or worn turbans in public.

The autoimmune disease attacks hair follicles. The National Institutes of Health says alopecia affects all racial groups, men and women equally.

Dr. Beth Brogan says the term alopecia is encompassing for any type of hair loss that someone may experience.

"I think it's usually harder psychologically on women. For women especially, the hair can be part of their identity and so alopecia often strikes women and children more severely," Brogan said.

Brogan says it is unknown what causes alopecia and there are different types. People with alopecia can be bullied and others may think they're unhealthy.

"I think a lot of times, people associate their hair with their health and so losing your hair, people lose part of their identity," she said. "It can cause a lot of anxiety ... there can be bullying over hair loss and it's such a personal experience that people feel when they lose their hair."

There are treatments for alopecia that can help. However, not everyone responds to medications and it can be hard to treat.

"It's important that patients have support around them ... every patient really experiences it differently," Brogan said.

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She encourages anyone to go to their doctor if they think they have alopecia.

WRTV reporter Adam Schumes contributed to this report.