Ashley Tisdale Reveals Medical Diagnosis: 'Nothing to Be Ashamed Of'

Ashley Tisdale is opening up about her alopecia diagnosis. The High School Musical alum, 37, took to Instagram Wednesday to share her journey with the autoimmune disease, which she first began to notice "a couple of months ago" while working on a TV project. 

"Alopecia and hair loss are fairly common, but a lot of people feel embarrassed to talk about these issues. Any type of hair loss can affect your self-esteem, especially if you feel like you're the only one going through it," wrote Tisdale on Instagram. "That's why I want to talk about it openly-because it's nothing to be ashamed of." Tisdale noticed that her own alopecia is connected to "stress overload," but that others may have hormonal issues or genetics at the root of their diagnosis. 

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines alopecia areata as an autoimmune disease "that happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss." Tisdale revealed on her Frenshe website that she first experienced hair loss during a particularly busy time of her life.

"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 shared, noting that she had previously noticed a bald patch before in her early 20s. "Nothing major-just a small section behind my ear-but still, it was happening, and not for the first time. A few years ago, the same thing happened when I was overly stressed, so I knew exactly what I was experiencing: alopecia."

Tisdale has noted that her hair does grow back, but that losing hair during times of stress is not uncommon for her, which is why it's been so important for her to get her stress levels under control using tools like yoga, meditation and therapy. "I find what has helped me, is stress management. Obviously, mediation," Tisdale said. "A lot of the time, my Cortisol is up, because I'm sometimes putting stress on myself for no reason, but it's really important to know what's a big deal versus what is not a big deal."

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Tisdale has also tried platelet-rich plasma injections to help treat her hair loss, which she admits is "more of an expensive route" that she's found "really helpful." A new autoimmune paleo diet has also helped her decrease inflammation. "It first of all just makes you feel better," the new mom said of her diet. "And it really is healing towards the gut. You don't want to kind of be on it for a lifestyle diet, but it's good to do a 30-day thing with it."

"It's basically like, paleo but you're cutting out grains and other foods that are allowed, like eggs," Tisdale added. "Obviously alopecia is an autoimmune disease, so I would say that would be something to look at and see if it's something you can follow and try it."