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Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at Oscars brings focus on alopecia disorder

Doctors at leading hospitals in Delhi said alopecia could be "scarring" or "non-scarring" or alopecia areata, triggered by autoimmune conditions

Oscars 2022

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles (Photo: AP/PTI)

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Hollywood star Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars is making global headlines but the incident has also brought the focus on alopecia -- a medical disorder that leads to varying degree of hair loss.
During the Academy Awards ceremony, Smith slapped Rock on stage after the latter cracked a joke about the Hollywood star's wife Jada Pinkett-Smith.
The joke was in reference to Pinkett-Smith's shaved head because of autoimmune disorder alopecia but it apparently didn't go down well with Smith, who went up to the stage and slapped Rock.
Dermatologists and hair care experts from Delhi to Mumbai concurred that as the disorder entails loss of hair, it often "affects the self-image and self-esteem" of people suffering from it.
Doctors at leading hospitals in Delhi said alopecia could be "scarring" or "non-scarring" or alopecia areata, triggered by autoimmune conditions.
Mumbai-based dermatologist and hair transplant surgeon Dr Sonali Kohli said there are multiple kinds of alopecia, largely depending on the degree of autoimmune disorder. The most common type is "alopecia areata", which occurs in about one out of 1,000 people.
"In this type, there could be a single or multiple patches of hair loss and both adult and children can get it. Alopecia is a genetic disorder, so children have the susceptibility of getting it even if one of their parents have it, but the degree of susceptibility could be different," she told PTI.
Other types of alopecia are -- alopecia totalis (when entire scalp turns bald); alopecia ophiasis (when even the hair loss is also on occipital, temporal, and parietal regions of the scalp); and alopecia universalis (when the hair loss happens across the entire body), doctors said.
Kohli said in this disorder, essentially the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss.
Kohli said she was aware of the incident that took place during the Academy Awards ceremony when actor Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage after he cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Kohli said unlike a disease like cancer which wrecks the body of a patient, this condition is such that it affects the "beauty" and "self-image" of a person due to loss of hair, and while in case of alopecia areata, some people wear a cap or something, and in case of alopecia totalis, many wear a wig or a hairpiece, it makes people conscious of their image.
Smith, who later won the Best Actor award, tendered a tearful apology on stage, and said, "Love will make you do crazy things", as his wife looked on sitting in the audience.
As the incident has brought alopecia back under spotlight, many doctors said some of the Indian celebrities also have it, but they generally do no acknowledge it in public, as "actors in India ar considered God-like".
Dr D M Mahajan, senior consultant, dermatology, Apollo hospitals in Delhi said, both male and female are equally susceptible to this condition.
In one type, there could be male-pattern alopecia or baldness or female-pattern alopecia or baldness. Also, non-scarring alopecia is "reversible" but scarring alopecia is "not reversible", he said.
"Also, people who have certain allergies are more susceptible to it," the doctor said.
Dr Rashmi Sharma, consultant, dermatology at Fortis Hospital at Vasant Kunj said while alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder largely, depression, anxiety and stress can also trigger it.
"Every person has two per cent risk of developing this disorder or one in 1,000. And, both male and female are are equally susceptible, as are adults and children," she said.
Doctors said its treatment, depending on varying degree of disorder, could be use of topical ointment or intra-lesional steroid injection, among other interventions.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 28 2022 | 8:35 PM IST

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