If you’re suffering from hair loss, you shouldn’t feel like you have to stop it. The notion that a long, flowing blowout — and that style only — connotes femininity is frankly bullsh*t. In fact, according to the American Hair Loss Association, 40 percent of those suffering from alopecia or other conditions that cause baldness are female. Since your hair is on your head, wear it as you’d like. That said, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to treat any unexpected hair loss.
One person who’s sought treatment for the condition is Jada Pinkett Smith. The actress and mother of two recently shared that she’s dealing with hair loss on an episode of her family’s Facebook series, Red Table Talk. Pinkett Smith revealed she’s been dealing with the problem for years, ever since a “terrifying” moment in the shower when clumps of her hair began falling out.
Though Pinkett Smith admitted to “shaking in fear” during that episode, time has helped her come to terms with the condition. “The higher power takes so much from people,” she said on her series. “People have cancer. People’s children are sick. I watch the higher power take things every day, and, by golly, if the higher power wants to take your hair — that’s it?”
Days after that announcement, Pinkett Smith took to Instagram to admit that she’s getting steroid injections to treat the area. As she said, the procedure “[seems] to be helping, but not curing” her condition. We reached out to dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco to answer our most pressing questions about the procedure.
How do injections stop hair loss?
A steroid injection works as an anti-inflammatory to quell conditions that cause hair loss such as alopecia, areta (bald patches), and active lupus. While a scalp condition such as psoriasis doesn’t cause hair loss itself, it is very uncomfortable and can lead to excess scratching — which can then result in someone pulling out the hair.
Who should get it?
“Steroid injections are not for everyone and not for all scalp or hair conditions,” Dr. Fusco said. One example of a time you should not undergo the treatment is if you’re suffering from dandruff-related inflammation. “Instead of moving right to steroid injections, patients might find their scalp responds to dandruff shampoo when regularly used,” she added. Dr. Fusco recommended opting for a shampoo with zinc, like Dove DermaCare Soothing Moisture Shampoo ($5), as the ingredient can reduce flakes and itching. (She’s a spokesperson for the brand.)
What happens during a steroid injection appointment?
If you’re sensitive, your doctor can opt to apply a topical numbing cream or light freeze to prepare your scalp for an injection. “It can be uncomfortable,” she warned, but she added that these steps can help ease the pain. (Tylenol also helps.) After that, the area will be disinfected and you’ll get the shot, followed by an ice pack.
Dr. Fusco recommended not coloring your hair for at least two days after getting the injection to avoid irritation. Some side effects include discomfort, bleeding, itchiness, and increased sensitivity.
How often do you get an injection?
This can vary depending on how long your inflammation is active. In general, Dr. Fusco said, patients get these shots every four to six weeks.