Chronic stress can have powerful effects on the health of our skin, hair, and nails. On 11 Jan., Ashley Tisdale revealed that overwhelming pressure during her breakout days as a Disney Channel star resulted in an alopecia diagnosis in her early 20s. "A couple of months ago, while simultaneously moving, starting a home renovation, and kicking off a TV project, I noticed that a patch of my hair was starting to fall out," she began a blog post on Frenshe, the website for her wellness brand. "Nothing major — just a small section behind my ear — but still, it was happening, and not for the first time."
Ashley Tisdale's Experience With Alopecia
When Tisdale was in her early 20s, she noticed a bald spot at her hairline during an appointment with her hair colourist, she said in an Instagram video, also posted on 11 Jan. Shortly after the appointment, her dermatologist diagnosed her with alopecia. According to Tisdale's account, the diagnosis likely occurred during the peak of her "High School Musical" days.
"Any type of hair loss can affect your self-esteem, especially if you feel like you're the only one going through it."
"Alopecia and hair loss are fairly common, but a lot of people feel embarrassed to talk about these issues," the Frenshe founder captioned the video. "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."
For some, alopecia and hair loss can be connected to hormones — for example, some people experience hair loss while pregnant — or underlying autoimmune diseases or genetics. Like other child stars, Tisdale, who has been acting professionally since she was 12 years old, explained that her personal condition is a result of "stress overload." "It's autoimmune and a lot of it's triggered by stress, and I was going through a really stressful time," she said. "So the hair grew back and it always does, thankfully, but there's been a couple times in my life where I've had very stressful events and have noticed that [the alopecia] will come back."
Ashley Tisdale's Tips For Managing Alopecia
Hoping to make others feel less alone, Tisdale shared her personal insights and tips for managing the autoimmune disease. "It can be stressful even having [alopecia] and being like, 'Oh my gosh, what if it gets worse?'" she said in the video. Tisdale added that meditation and other stress-management techniques have been beneficial for her. "A lot of the time, my cortisol is up because I'm sometimes putting stress on myself for no reason, so it's really important to know what is a big deal versus not a big deal," she explained.
"Know that if you struggle with it, you are not alone."
For Tisdale, the most effective treatment has been platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, a series of injections of her own processed blood intended to prevent hair loss. The injection therapy is also commonly used to help treat injuries and prompt healing. "I actually had tried PRP on that spot a couple years ago," she said of the bald spot at her hairline. "It grew back super fast, and it hasn't ever affected that area ever again." She added that she recently had the treatment applied to the spot behind her ear and hopes to see similar results. "It is more of an expensive route, but I do find it is really helpful for alopecia," she added.
The mom-of-one said that she also recommends a 30-day autoimmune paleo diet to prevent flare-ups. Unlike the standard paleo diet, this version also eliminates grains, eggs, and other foods that may cause inflammation or hormone changes. Tisdale added that each person's journey with alopecia is unique, and those who want to should seek treatment from a medical professional. In addition to stress management, WebMD adds that common treatments for alopecia include topical immunotherapy, corticosteroids, and the use of minoxidil, or Rogaine.
Concluding the video, Tisdale said, "That's all I have done to help myself with times where I'm experiencing alopecia, and hopefully it helps you guys. Know that if you struggle with it, you are not alone."