Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart revealed on TikTok that she has been diagnosed with alopecia, a skin disease that commonly causes hair loss. She also disclosed that her diagnosis coincided with a mental health episode. In the video, Reinhart mouths along with the dialogue, “I’m pushed beyond the limits of what a person should be pushed to endure,” with text overlaid reading, “Was just diagnosed with alopecia in the midst of a major depressive episode.”
For a little bit of background: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles, resulting in patchy or bald spots on the body. (FYI: The word alopecia refers to baldness, and areata is another word for patchy.) According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, approximately 700,000 people in the US currently have the condition. While alopecia can affect any part of the body, like the arms and legs, hair loss due to alopecia most often affects the follicles on the scalp. Although anyone can be diagnosed with alopecia, people are more likely to deal with hair loss in childhood, or if hair loss (or another type of autoimmune disease) runs in their family. There are multiple types of alopecia; the type a person has is based on the severity and location of their hair loss.
Symptoms of alopecia areata include visible hair loss—people who have it might notice bald patches on their scalps or on other parts of their bodies, including their eyelashes and eyebrows. While these symptoms are rarer, the skin in these bald patches might be a different color from the surrounding skin or feel itchy. A person might notice that their follicles are larger or see black spots in them. Another sign of alopecia is nail pitting, which refers to small indentations on the fingernails.
The extent of Reinhart’s hair loss is unclear; however, she did let her followers know that she’s using red light therapy (RLT) to treat her hair loss, writing “Red light therapy is my new best friend” in the caption of her TikTok. While more studies are needed to gauge its effectiveness, RLT is purported to improve skin health and facilitate hair growth in people dealing with alopecia. Prescription hair growth medications are the most common treatments for the condition, according to Cleveland Clinic. There’s currently no cure for alopecia, but interventions like corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation around hair follicles in an effort to promote hair growth, can reduce symptoms for some people with the condition, per the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. It’s important to contact a doctor if you notice any type of sudden hair loss, since it might indicate an underlying medical issue.