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Last year, Jada Pinkett Smith revealed on her Red Table Talk that her hair has been falling out because of alopecia. The 46-year-old actress shared that she was terrified when she first noticed her hair coming out in bundles in the shower.

“I was just like ‘Oh, my God. Am I going bald?’ It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear,” she said. “That’s why I cut my hair and continued to cut it.”

We appreciate her courage. And we also know that Jada is not alone. It’s estimated that 40 percent of women over the age of 40 suffers from hair loss. Here are five facts you need to know.

1.) Alopecia Areata Is An Auto Immune Disorder

One form of alopecia is alopecia areata is classified as an auto immune disorder that attacks the hair follicles. This causes one’s hair to come out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter, Wed MD reported. Folks with this disorder can have hair that falls out in patches or they can lose a lot of hair.

Alopecia areata is occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis, MedicineNet.com noted.

It’s not know if this is the type of alopecia that Jada has. CNN noted that the tests she took have yet to uncover a medical explanation for her hair loss. However, some of her friends believe her condition is to due to stress.

2.) Traction Alopecia Is More Common Among Black Women

Traction Alopecia are the most common forms of alopecia that affects Black women. This type of hair loss is a result of the tension from our styles such as weaves, braids, extensions and wigs. It’s happens when the follicle is inflamed from the hair being pulled too tight for too long.

This hair loss can occur anywhere on the scalp, but we see it a lot on a woman’s hairline, the kitchen and from the front to behind our ears.

One important thing to keep in mind: Traction alopecia doesn’t happen over night either. As the New York Times point out, it comes in stages starting with pain and little bumps around the follicles,  gradual thinning and then scarring causing permanent hair loss in that area.

Growing your hair back isn’t going to happen over night either. Allure noted that it can take 3-9 months to see any progress with treatment, which can include steroid shots, follicle serums, vitamins and growth cremes like Rogaine. So just be patient.

3.) Loosen Up Those Braids, Weaves And Relaxers

In some cases, alopecia can be genetic, but for many Black women, traction caused by how we style our hair seems to be a huge cause. So one way to prevent and/or alleviate hair loss can include the following:

  • Making sure your braids are so tight, especially around the hairline. Don’t be afraid to let the braider know that you’re uncomfortable
  • If you can, stretch out your relaxers a bit or relax the areas where there is hair loss, less often than the rest of your scalp.
  • Keep in mind that your protective style, may not be protecting your hair. So pay attention.
  • Work with your stylist on a hairdo that won’t make your hair loss worse.

4.) Don’t Forget About Folliculitis Induced Alopecia 

This type of alopecia occurs when bacteria seeps down into the scalp, causing inflammation of the hair follicles. According to Live Strong, there are different forms of folliculitis, including non-infectious and infectious. It’s believed that non-infectious forms are caused by greases and oils that are applied to the scalp and clog the hair follicles.

Treatment can include antibiotics and topical creams.

5.) Early Detection Is Best, So Go To The Dermatologist

As stated before, once the follicle is scarred, the damage IS NOT reversible, so please make an appointment with a dermatologist or doctor as soon as you can. From there, they will diagnosis you with what type of alopecia you have, what’s the best course of treatment and if its possible to reverse any hair loss you’ve already suffered.

Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Just be as proactive as you can.