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Global physicians discuss Alopecia and treatment options 

woman with alopecia

Jada Pinkett Smith first revealed she was diagnosed with the medical condition alopecia in 2018. In December, Pinkett Smith shared a video on Instagram explaining that she shaved her head due to her recent hair loss.  

At the most recent Oscars, Pinkett Smith’s condition suddenly became the center of controversy, as her husband Will Smith appeared to strike host Chris Rock over a joke he made about her shaved head… 

About of a third of women will suffer some form of hair loss in their lives, according to Harvard Medical School. And a peer-reviewed study published in 2018 found that Black and Hispanic women in the US have a ‘significantly greater’ chance of developing alopecia areata — the medical term for the autoimmune disorder Pinkett Smith has — in their lifetime than White women.  

Alopecia advocates, and those with the condition, took to social media following the incident, with one awareness group, The Bald Girls Do Lunch, tweeting: ‘Jokes about @jadapsmith or any woman with #alopecia #alopeciaareata is never ok. Period.’”  

According to the New York Times, “Alopecia is a broad term that refers to any form of hair loss, said Dr. Angela Lamb, a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai in New York City. It can have many causes. Some people — especially men ­— lose scalp hair with age because of changes in hormones known as androgens, she said, and that is considered a form of alopecia. A type of hair loss common in the Black community is traction alopecia, which occurs when hair has been pulled tight for too long.  

Other people lose hair because their immune system starts attacking their hair follicles in what is known as autoimmune alopecia. Autoimmune forms of alopecia can be caused by discoid lupus erythematosus, which can lead to sores and scarring on the face and scalp. Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia is another immune-related condition that causes scalp scarring and permanent hair loss. C.C.C.A. almost exclusively arises among Black women between ages 30 and 55, and research suggests it may afflict as many as 15 percent of such women.  

Another common form of autoimmune alopecia is alopecia areata. When people talk about alopecia, they are often referring to this type, which affects one in every 500 to 1,000 peoplein the United States. It’s unclear what kind of alopecia Pinkett Smith has, but her appearance suggests it is alopecia areata, said Dr. George Cotsarelis, a dermatologist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.”  

In a recent Sermo poll, 420+ global physicians discuss their experiences with alopecia—with 62% responding that they have treated this condition; and 48% saying they have found some drugs or treatments to be helpful. 

Ninety-two percent of doctors said hair loss can be devastating to patients, due to their emotional and psychological feelings about hair; with another 92% saying that alopecia is often more difficult for women than men due to societal expectations.  

Eighty-six percent said they believe it’s helpful to society when celebrities share their difficult medical journeys. 

Below, Sermo physicians from around the world share their professional insights, perspectives, and opinions on this important topic—in their own words:  

“I do intralesional steroid injections on alopecia areata.

Family Medicine, U.S. 

Alopecia is a treatable medical condition, but people less often discuss it due to societal pressures. The stage of diagnosis is a useful prognostic marker, earlier the diagnosis, better is the response to treatment. It is basically an autoimmune condition. Treatment with minoxidil is useful in most cases.

G.P., India

I treat trichotillomania which is a cause of alopecia.

Psychiatry, Turkey 

Topical minoxidil (the men’s strength) twice and day! Just retired from a large hair practice in dallas two years ago. Did hair transplants, facial plastic surgery and liposuction for 25 years. I had a lot of alopecia areata patients mixed in with my male pattern baldness patients. (50%-male, 50%-female) If you can start minoxidil early, then you will get vellus hair growth. I always found that the AA patients had a history of a severe traumatic event prior to hair loss.” —Plastics & Reconstruction Surgery, U.S. 

Plastics & Reconstruction Surgery, U.S. 

In my practice, I mainly deal with alopecia that is secondary to chemotherapy.”

Hematology, Portugal

Melajenina, a Cuban topical medicine.

General Surgery, Cuba 

Yes. I have tried Proscar tablets and Minoxidil topical solution.

G.P., Spain 

The population should be made aware that alopecia is a medical issue and therefore should be treated in a multidisciplinary manner.

Family Medicine, Mexico 

There are today various types of alopecia, and they cause a great emotional affectation in patients.”

Family Practice, Spain

I have treated some patients with Minoxidil, but really without great results.. it is quite disappointing.

Nephrology, Spain

Non-scarring alopecia are characterized by reversibility; alopecia areata is the most frequent and belongs to them. But there are other and often more diffuse forms: Alopecia associated with dysthyreosis, pregnancy/ after birth, Lues, Microsporia, severe infections, Thallium, Arsen, cytostatica, anticoagulants, retinoids, anorexia nervosa, psychological distress. This differential diagnosis of non scarring alopecia is important and always to be considered too.

Ophthalmology, Germany

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