Alopecia. The word we don’t like to hear, especially women. The condition which is regularly, wrongly confused with cancer. But what is it? And how does it affect you?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease where it is thought the immune system starts attacking its healthy cells, in this case hair follicles. Not a lot of research has been done regarding the condition so details are still very vague. And there’s no real cure for it.
From around the age of 8, I noticed a bald spot in my hair. I even showed my friend at school. Maybe to see if it was normal and if she’d say I have the same. But no, she just asked how and when did I get it? Shortly after I saw my doctor, he prescribed some steroidal cream to apply to the patch itself. I did as he prescribed for however long. My mother said she saw a small difference. I recall no difference but anyway, the patch still remained.
For years on and off, I’ve been mentioning it to other doctors, and all they put it down to was eczema. So I took their word for it, as there doctors they’re supposed to know what they’re talking about. They kept giving me steroidal creams or shampoo’s for ‘irritated skin’. Sometimes I’d have flakiness/scabs and sometimes I wouldn’t. I felt they kept ignoring the issue, and tried putting It down to something else. Which got more and more infuriating, as you’re unaware if and when you’ll start losing more hair…
I had enough. Years passed with no diagnosis of what the baldness was and no treatment. I had completely no faith in doctors, as in my eyes, they’ve just been incompetent. I’ve even seen dermatologists since the age of 2 for other skin issues I’ll get into in the near future. And even they failed me! Imagine, they’re specialists in their field and none of them came up with an answer for the balding. I ran out of faith for anyone treating me.
I noticed another bald patch arise from nowhere close to the original patch. Along with a decent amount of hair thinning at the sides and front of the scalp. Only a few months ago at the age of 19, I saw another dermatologist and whilst in the consultation, I thought I’d show her these patches and give her a chance to examine. I mentioned it, just to see how inept they can be. This consultant took it seriously. Even I was surprised. She never diagnosed me (I think she was a trainee), but she shined a UV light on it and took measurements of both. And gave me a potent steroidal cream. I used it religiously for almost 2 weeks. My mother was saying early on in this treatment, it looks like it’s making the patches bigger and I just said I have to give it a fair go it’s supposed to work. Then after I washed my hair, The patches were just getting even more noticeable so I had to stop.
A few months pass, I turn 20 then I see another dermatologist (my main constultant since becoming an adult). I mention the patches to her and the treatment I started, advised from her colleague and say it made my patches more noticeable and worse. She examines me and diagnosed me, finally with alopecia. Then asks me if I’d like steroidal injections, injected into my scalp. I almost bit her hand off, I was like yes yes yes please! She continued to explain, because the main bald patch has been there for about 12 years she doesn’t think it would react to the injections, but the more recent one has more of a chance of regrowth. So she injected both areas anyway. They’re a bit painful and tingly but trust me nowhere near unbearable.
So far I’m not gonna lie its been about 3 months and I’ve seen a slight difference, which is something. So it hasn’t really changed my attempts at hairstyles to cover my patches, and it does affect how you live your life, if it’s a windy day and your hairs down, you’re always questioning if the balding is on display. It may sound trivial but hair is quite a big deal, especially to women. As people say its your crowning glory, and when that crown wears away, you feel like you’re losing part of your identity.
My partner then, was speaking about how lovely my hair is, and I asked what would you do if I lost it all? And I saw the look on his face, he said kind of reluctantly, I’d just pretend you had hair. I was taken aback, and not in a good way. I proceeded to say, if you love someone you shouldn’t have to pretend they have hair, you’re supposed to love them no matter what. And it made me think, I would want you to see me as me. Not pretend I look a certain way, when I don’t.
Have you ever suffered from hair loss/alopecia? Or do you know someone who does? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!