The High School Musical star posted a video to Instagram on Wednesday where she discussed some common causes and ways of treating alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks its own hair follicles.
While “alopecia” is a general term for hair loss, there are nine different types of alopecia people can develop, according to Alopecia UK. However, the most common are androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata.
The 37-year-old actor and mother of one shared how she was diagnosed with alopecia areata by her dermatologist when she was in her early 20s, after noticing a bald spot at the top of her hairline.
“Alopecia and hair loss are fairly common, but a lot of people feel embarrassed to talk about these issues,” she captioned the clip. “Any type of hair loss can affect your self-esteem, especially if you feel like you’re the only one going through it.”
“That’s why I want to talk about it openly – because it’s nothing to be ashamed of,” she added. “Sometimes it’s connected to hormones, other times to heredity, and for me, it’s connected to stress overload.”
The Disney Channel alum explained that she was going through a really stressful time in her life when she started losing her hair. Although Tisdale noted how “thankfully” her hair tends to grow back, the singer shared some tips and tricks that have helped her manage her alopecia with her followers.
“What has helped me is stress management,” she began, adding that meditation, yoga and realising “what is actually a big deal versus not a big deal” in her life.
Tisdale also revealed she’s been treating her alopecia using platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP. Research has shown that PRP injections have been useful in improving hair growth and thickness in patients with alopecia. This treatment involves drawing a person’s blood and injecting it into the scalp.
Other common treatments include topical steroids in the forms of creams, ointments, lotions, or foams that are applied directly to the scalp or skin surface to stimulate hair growth.
The beauty founder also recommended an autoimmune-targeted diet, which she described as similar to the paleo diet but without certain foods, like grains. “First of all, it just makes you feel better and it really is healing towards the gut. You don’t want to be on it for a lifestyle diet, but it’s good to do a 30-day thing.”
Tisdale concluded her helpful post with an encouraging message to those also experiencing hair loss due to alopecia, adding, “Know that if you struggle with it, you are not alone.”
Alopecia affects as many as 6.8 million people in the United States, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Ashley Tisdale isn’t the only celebrity who’s been diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder. Actor Jada Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with alopecia, which she first revealed she had in 2018, during an episode of her podcast, Red Table Talk.
Speaking about when her hair loss first began, Pinkett Smith recalled how she was “in the shower one day” and then “handfuls of hair” fell into her hands.
“I was like, ‘Oh my god, am I going bald?’ It was one of those times in my life when I was literally shaking with fear.”