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From male pattern baldness to alopecia, hair loss affects many people

Hair loss has been a hot topic recently after Chris Rock's joke at the Oscars about Jada Pinkett Smith.

MACON, Ga. — When a joke about hair loss at the Oscars led to a slap seen around the world, it also hit home for Gloria Cisse.

"I was reminded of what I felt like when I was out in the community and people were not accepting the fact that I didn't have any control over not having hair," she said.

Cisse was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and suffered hair loss during chemotherapy.

"It was very disturbing to be around people who thought there was something wrong with me for not wanting to wear a wig or not wanting to cover my head. It's really damaging to your sense of self," said Cisse.

Whether it's from cancer like Cisse or alopecia like Jada Pinkett Smith, dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Allen is seeing a growing number of patients with hair loss.

"I would say about 10 years ago, I only had a couple of patients with alopecia. Now, I have 15 to 20 a week," explained Allen.

The most common type is androgenic alopecia, an auto-immune disorder. Allen says it affects tens of millions of Americans, but is highly treatable.  

Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia areata, which is rarer, but can also be treated.

"Right now, because of Jada Smith -- because that is the type that she has and with the Oscars -- everybody is aware of alopecia areata," said Allen. "It is devastating to patients. They get worried about all types of hair loss, especially that one when they see totally bald areas."

Cisse is glad people are talking about hair loss and thinks people should stand up for the vulnerable, but in a different way than Will Smith.

"I do think that the pen is mightier than the sword and we should use verbal, non-violent means to get our point across to support other people," said Cisse.

Dr. Allen says there are many treatments to help treat hair loss, including shots, topical treatments, and even pills. Some cases are more severe than others.

For information and resources about hair loss, click here.

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