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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) Reveals Her Hair Loss Situation

Representative Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat from Massachusetts, revealed that she has been suffering from alopecia of her scalp. Alopecia is simply the medical term for hair loss. There are a number of causes of alopecia, the most common of which is androgenetic alopecia, which is male or female pattern hair loss. Ninety-eight percent of all hair loss can be attributed to this common condition.

As she eloquently described in her video release today, she has a far less common cause of her hair loss, which she described as patches or bald spots that occurred very rapidly. This condition is not genetic hair loss. It is called alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune disease that quickly causes hairs to fall out in single or multiple areas of the scalp. They can be very small or very large.

There are a number of treatments of alopecia areata that aim to stop expansion of size of the affected areas and to allow the follicle to regrow the missing hair. They include topical therapies as well as injectable ones. An interesting statistic of this condition is that 2/3’rds of people will have their hair grow back with or without treatment and 1/3’rd will not grow back despite therapies.

Because the Congresswoman described her particular hair loss situation as “early”, her reveal as a fully bald woman is probably due to the hair loss from the condition in combination with shaving the remaining hair to provide the uniform (and, attractive, in my opinion) bald look.

Another autoimmune condition which, by virtue of the disease, results in loss of all of the hair on the scalp along with eyebrows, eyelashes, and any facial hair is called alopecia totalis. Finally, if all of one’s hair is lost throughout the entire body, this condition is called alopecia universalis.

An important take-home point well described by Ms. Pressley can be extrapolated to all types of hair loss in women, including the common female pattern hair loss, is that hair loss can, indeed, be devastating. What is extremely important to know, however, is that treatments are available to help virtually all suffering with hair loss, whether medical, surgical, or cosmetic to help alleviate this angst. Dr. Lopresti and I have been treating women with hair loss for a very long time. We wish Congresswoman Pressley all the best in her hair loss journey!