When I was a little girl about 9, most of my hair fell out. It fell out in small patches rapidly until it was mostly gone. My parents took me to the doctors and we were told I had aloplecia areata, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the hair follicles causing them to fall out.
We were given steroid cream to apply and the offer of a wig but I was a happy-go-lucky girl and preferred to go without. Even after some mild bullying when my parents offered to get me a tutor to stay off school, I declined. I remember thinking, “I don’t want this spoiling my fun”.
To everyone’s relief, my hair grew back by the time I started high school. Just in time for me to embrace the popular early 90’s hair craze of a spray up fringe and perm (come on, you remember). I dyed it cherry brown and mahogany, grew a fringe, styled and delighted in my hair as every teenage girl does.
There have been a few re-occurances over the years but usually a small circular patch that grows back after a while. Nowhere near as drastic as when it first happened….until a few years ago.
I first noticed a patch of hair was falling out after we eventually sold my old marital home and I bought my own house. We moved in September and in the same month my son started nursery school for the first time. There was a lot going so I put it down to stress and didn’t worry too much about it.
When it didn’t grow back I went to the doctor for some steroid cream. To be honest I was very complacent and applied it infrequently, still thinking it would naturally run its course and return as it always had.
The patch started to grow in size and move from the bottom of my hairline upwards and around until the lower section of my hair was completely missing. By this time I had returned to the doctor and was waiting to see a specialist dermatologist.
It took a further nine months for an appointment with the specialist and unfortunately by the time it arrived I had lost nearly all of my hair. I shaved the last few sections off in Jessie J style in a bid to regain some control (with my son and my sister cheering me on).
At first I was very self-conscience. Every woman will testify how important their hair is to them, it makes us feel feminine and attractive. However despite this, I could hear that little voice in my head again saying “I don’t want this spoiling my fun”.
So I experimented with wigs and found one that I love and feels like me. If I get bored, I can just try something else! When my eyebrows and eyelashes followed suit and disappeared I got some great eye pencils and had my eyebrows tattooed on. Luckily this seems to be the fashion these days anyway.
I’ve tried various treatments via a specialist dermatologist including diphencyprone, whereby a potent lotion is painted on my scalp once a week with the goal of causing an allergic reaction for 24 hours to stimulate the hair follicles back into life. However after 6 months I decided to stop the treatment as it didn’t seem to be making a difference.
Apparently once all the hair has gone the chances of re-growth are drastically cut. So I go to the stage where I accepted my condition and just wanted to get on with my life and not think about it all the time.
In the grand scheme of things, I count myself incredibly lucky as my condition isn’t life threatening and I haven’t lost my hair through chemotherapy treatment. I’m well aware that there are a lot of people out there who would swap places with me in a heartbeat.
At the end of the day it’s just hair. I am healthy and I am happy and so is my son. I have learnt to see the positives in the situation, because I think it’s important to always try to do that in life.
I find myself often enjoying the perks of having no hair. I never have a bad hair day or regret a trip to the hair dressers. I take half the time to get ready to go out and if my hair gets wet in the rain, it dries like it’s been blow dried in a salon.
If you are suffering from Alopecia, please listen to that little voice inside your head…..
and don’t let it spoil your fun!