Why Alopecia Causes Hair Loss and What Jada Pinkett Smith Has Said About It

This year's Oscars ceremony has taken the internet by storm after actor Will Smith appeared to strike host and comedian Chris Rock on stage.

The altercation occurred after Rock made a joke about the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who is also Will's wife, that referred to her hair loss.

"Jada, love you, G.I. Jane 2—can't wait to see it," said Rock, apparently referring to the 1997 American war drama G.I. Jane that featured actress Demi Moore with a shaved head. Smith then walked on stage and slapped Rock.

Pinkett Smith has been open about her experience with alopecia, a condition that causes hair to fall out, in recent years.

The actress discussed her hair loss back in 2018 during an episode of the talk show Red Table Talk, in which she said she began losing "handfuls of hair" in the shower.

"It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear," Smith said. She added that she had consulted doctors to find out why her hair loss was occurring, but had not gotten an answer. "They don't know why," said Smith.

Hair Loss

In July 2021, Smith shared a photo of her shaved head to Instagram, along with a caption in which she said she was embracing it. "My 50s are 'bout to be divinely lit with this shed," the actress wrote.

She discussed her hair loss in another Instagram post some months later, in which she addressed her followers with a video.

"Now at this point I can only laugh. Y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia," she said, and wrote in a caption: "Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… period!"

Alopecia, also called alopecia areata, is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall out, but its effects can differ. Some people only lose their hair in some spots, others lose a lot. Some people find that their hair grows back, sometimes permanently, but also temporarily, according to WebMD. The condition can similarly affect body hair.

Doctors know that alopecia is a disease in which the immune system attacks the body. In people with alopecia, hair follicles are attacked.

It's still unknown exactly why alopecia occurs. It's thought that people with the condition may have inherited it, and that it can be activated by some sort of trigger. People are more likely to have alopecia if a family member has it, WebMD states.

Research to develop more treatments for alopecia is ongoing. Steroids may help some people with the condition, though they may take a long time to work.

Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California, on March 27, 2022. Pinkett Smith has been open about her hair loss for years. Rich Fury/VF22/Getty