Alopecia Areata: Celebrities, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments

There was a lot of drama at the 2022 Academy Awards. However, the event unintentionally shed light on the autoimmune disorder known as Alopecia Areata. Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the target of Chris Rock's joke, has spoken openly about her hair loss as a result of the medical problem. While more individuals are aware of this condition these days, little is known about what causes it, whether it can be treated, and how it affects a person’s self-esteem.

Other Public Figures with Alopecia

Alopecia has affected a number of celebrities, most notably Scottish pin-up and broadcaster Gail Porter, who was diagnosed with the disorder in 2005. Porter has Alopecia Totalis, which means she has lost all of her body hair, but she has repeatedly refused to wear a hat or wig to raise awareness of the condition.

She became an ambassador for the Little Princess Trust, a charity that supports children with hair loss with wigs.

Christina Milian also reports to have experienced postpartum hair loss following her previous two pregnancies and was better prepared for it after expecting her third child, Kenna, in April 2021, thanks to extensive research on the matter. Jesy Nelson of Little Mix has also openly discussed hair loss after being tormented at school, as has comedian and Little Britain star Matt Lucas, who lost his hair at the age of six. 

Viola Davis, an Oscar-nominated actress, also spoke out about losing half her hair to stress-related Alopecia at the age of 28. After discovering that her balding was caused by stress, she internalized the struggle until she learned to accept her hair for what it was. “I woke up one day, and it looked like I had a Mohawk. A big splash of bald on the top of my head,” Davis said to Vulture. “I used to be like, ‘What is going on?’ until I discovered it was due to stress. That's how I got it into my head. That is something I no longer do. My favorite quote is, 'The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.' (Joseph Campbell) I tell you, I have wasted so much of my life not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I'm just not there any longer."

Davis began wearing wigs everywhere she went because she was embarrassed by her hair. It wasn't until she was older, that wigs, which she still wears, became an option rather than a means of concealment.

Naomi Campbell endured considerable hair loss after years of rough handling her hair with extensions and weaves. Campbell stated to the Evening Standard that she "lost all of it," and that she has since become more careful with her hair, resulting in the majority of her bald spots sprouting back. "I do take better care of my hair now that I've lost all of it with extensions," Campbell explained. "I'm more cautious, and I do things differently."

But what exactly is Alopecia? Is there any treatment for it, and how does it impact your hair? Here's what you should know:  

What is Alopecia?

According to Yale Medicine, "Alopecia" simply means the loss of hair.

However, "Alopecia Areata" is a more specific autoimmune illness in which a person's body and immune system attack their own hair follicles, resulting in hair loss and sometimes alterations to the fingernails and toes.

Hair loss normally appears in small, circular patches, but it can be more severe in certain situations. It is most frequent on the scalp, although it can also appear in other places such as the beard or brows.

According to UCLA Health, small broken-off hairs may be present at the borders of hair loss patches.

The severity of Alopecia Areata varies. According to Yale, the phrase refers to patchy hair loss, whereas "Alopecia Totalis" refers to "total loss of hair on the head," and "Alopecia Universalis" refers to "full loss of hair on the head, face, and body." Total hair loss is the most uncommon form of the condition.

The illness can strike anyone at any age, but it is most common in persons in their twenties to thirties. Alopecia affects men and women nearly equally.

What Causes Alopecia?

According to Yale Medicine, persons with Alopecia Areata have hair follicles that "release a chemical message that drives the immune system to attack them," resulting in hair loss. The National Institute of Health claims that “it is more likely if you have another autoimmune condition, such as "psoriasis, thyroid disease, or vitiligo," or if you have allergies, such as hay fever.

According to the NIH, other risk factors for alopecia include "emotional stress or disease," which "may bring on Alopecia Areata in persons who are at risk."

People with a family history of Alopecia Areata appear to be more vulnerable, and it is more likely in those with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), diabetes, or Down's Syndrome. However, for many people, there is no family history of the condition, and there is no evident cause. Researchers believe it is linked to genes that control the immune system, but more research is needed to discover the exact origin of Alopecia.

What types of Alopecia are there?

There are several additional forms of alopecia that can affect people, in addition to Alopecia Areata. Pattern hair loss is the most frequent type of Alopecia, which can affect both men and women.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Although this is the medical term for pattern hair loss, many people are unaware that it is a type of Alopecia.

Males with this condition typically have their hairline recede as their hair thins and falls out, beginning around the temples. Women may notice thinning hair all over their head. This is a normal part of the aging process and should not be a reason for concern.

Around 50% of men over the age of 50 have some type of hair loss, whereas 50% of women over the age of 65 have Androgenetic Alopecia.

Scarring Alopecia

Even when the cause is similar, Alopecia can present in a variety of ways. Scarring Alopecia is a kind of Alopecia that manifests itself in many ways on the head. Inflammation, infection, burns, or autoimmune illnesses can all cause this sort of hair loss.

The hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue, making it impossible for the hair to regenerate. Other patients may notice that their hair begins to fall out at the crown of their head and spreads out from there; this is known as Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia.

Chemotherapy-induced Alopecia

This kind of Alopecia, also known as Anagen Effluvium, is caused directly by chemotherapy. It is a chemotherapeutic medication side effect that is frequently one of the more apparent side effects of the treatment.

This is most commonly connected with cancer treatment; however, it is not restricted to cancer patients. As Alopecia can cause hair loss all over your body, some people lose their brow hair and eyelashes during this time. Depending on your dosage, you may experience thinning or total baldness.

Traction Alopecia

This Alopecia occurs when hair has been pulled in a specific way for an extended period of time. Tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, or the use of extensions on a regular basis, can cause Traction Alopecia. When hair loss is first noticed, it can be addressed, but repeated pulling can cause irreversible follicle damage. As soon as the hair begins to thin, stop using tight hairstyles, and the hair should begin to regrow.

It's never too late for your hair, even with Alopecia Areata

While hair loss can be devastating to your self-esteem, the good news is that it does not have to have a long-term impact on how you think, feel, and behave.

Another piece of good news is that if you act quickly, hair loss does not have to be permanent. We delve further on this down the page, but with the appropriate strategy, you can typically protect yourself from more hair loss and even restore your lost hair. 

Though you cannot control how much hair you lose or how quickly it falls out, you can control how it affects you.

Use FDA-Approved Medications

Almost all types of hair loss are treatable, from male pattern baldness to Telogen Effluvium. By acting as soon as possible, you may be able to prevent more hair loss and even regrow hair in thinning places such as your hairline or crown.

We've compiled a list of the best ways to prevent and treat hair loss, as well as the research behind each treatment choice. 


If you have a receding hairline, hair thinning, or other early indicators of male pattern baldness, Finasteride is the most effective medicine you can add to your hair loss prevention arsenal.

Finasteride is a hair loss medicine that is taken orally. It works by stopping your body from turning testosterone into DHT, a hormone that can damage hair follicles and impede hair growth.

Finasteride, when used on a daily basis, is extremely effective at preventing and treating male pattern baldness. In a long-term Japanese study, more than 90% of balding men who used Finasteride reported an improvement in the appearance of their hair. 


If Finasteride is the most effective drug for preventing hair loss, Minoxidil is unquestionably its accomplice.

Minoxidil is a hair loss treatment that is applied topically. Instead of inhibiting DHT production, it works locally by transitioning your hair follicles into the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle and increasing local blood supply to your scalp.

Minoxidil, like Finasteride, is supported by a lot of studies. In fact, according to one study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, 94.1% of balding males who used Minoxidil and Finasteride combined saw gains in hair growth over a 12-month period.

Following a consultation with Dr. Feinberg, our Hair Restoration Center provides prescription-strength Minoxidil solution, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and Finasteride.

Consider Hair Transplant Surgery

If you have more apparent hair loss or desire quick results, you may want to consider hair transplant surgery.

This cosmetic surgery entails extracting hair follicles from the back and sides of the head and using them to reconstruct the hairline and/or crown. This sort of surgery, when performed by a skilled hair transplant surgeon like Dr. Feinberg can give natural, visually acceptable results.

A fully automated hair transplantation technology provides improved precision and shorter hair transplanting times. At the Hair Restoration Center of New York & New Jersey, robotic hair transplant treatments are performed with the help of an innovative optical guidance system for site construction, graft extraction, and incision.

Request a consultation with Dr. Feinberg today to learn more about the hair loss solutions that are best suited for you.