Chances are, you’ve seen someone with Alopecia. Walked right past them even, and not known that they were any different to you. Since being diagnosed with Alopecia myself I’ve met and heard of more people having it then I would have ever imagined.
Because it’s easy to hide. It’s easy to pull a wig on, or cover up with a scarf, and the world won’t know any difference. No one will know they don’t have any hair.
Alopecia Areata is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp. The condition is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth. It occurs in both males and females, and in people who are apparently healthy and have no skin disorders. First onset most commonly occurs in early childhood, late teenage years or young adulthood – but can happen to people of all ages.
I was 23 when my Alopecia started. I had heard vaguely about it once – a story in a magazine – many years earlier and remember thinking “jees, I hope that never happens to me”. Many doctors and specialist visits later and I was diagnosed with Alopecia. The Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation’s (AAAF) slogan is ‘Alopecia….it’s life changing’. That’s absolutely right.
I went from a confidant just married woman to someone who’d stand in front of the mirror for hours before exiting the house. I was unfortunate enough to have Alopecia Universalis – total body hair loss. You never realise how important your eyebrows are until you don’t have them anymore. Exercising (in the comfort of my lounge room!) without eyebrows means the sweat just keeps rolling down into your eyes! But it is fun, if not a little traumatising, experimenting with drawing yourself new brows. Pencil thin brows do not suit me at all. And an added bonus of Universalis – not having to shave my legs!
As I mentioned earlier, Alopecia is really easy to hide and a good wig can make the world of difference to a bald woman. Suddenly I had my confidence back. I could walk down the street and go out with my new Husband carefree. But after much soul searching and itchy wig wearing I decided that headscarfs were the way to go for me. I’d get the often ‘are you having cancer treatment’ question, but I’ve always been happy to explain to anyone who’d listen that a healthy person can lose their hair as well. I’m extremely lucky that most of my hair has since regrown. I still have Alopecia Areata and am constantly covering bald patches on my scalp, but I know I’m so lucky to even have regrowth. Some, like the woman in the magazine, don’t have hair again. Ever.
This week is Alopecia Areata Awareness Week. Chances are, you’ve seen someone with Alopecia. You might even know someone with it. AAAF have organised activities all week, to check out the ones closes to you or to learn more about Alopecia visit their site at www.aaaf.org.au. You can donate towards support, research and education from their site as well.
Alopecia Areata…it’s life changing.
I’m Daneyl, I’m a blogger, wife, mother and opera singer (but only when I’m in the shower). I’m the most relaxed when I’m being creative, cooking, reading and writing. I’m loving being a stay at Mum and learning how to be a parent to my two gorgeous cherubs. Check out my little blog at www.thestrandsofme.com