On Thursday, the lawmaker revealed she has alopecia in an exclusive and vulnerable interview and video with The Root. Pressley appears in the video first in a lace-front wig, and then with a bald head for the first time.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease which causes the body to attack healthy hair follicles in people who are typically otherwise healthy. This, according to the National Alopecia Areata foundation, causes the follicles to “become much smaller and drastically slow down production to the point that hair growth may stop.”
The condition impacts 6.8 million people in the United States, and can happen to anyone with hair on the scalp or other parts of the body. Certain factors, like having close blood relatives with alopecia, asthma and thyroid disease, can increase the chance someone has the disease. The hair follicle does not die during this process ― so regrowth of the hair is also possible ― but it’s not guaranteed.