“Everybody has a ‘thing.’ Some you can see, some you can’t. You can see mine.” That statement graces the homepage of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation website. And, it’s true: Nobody is perfect.
Some people struggle with things like depression, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Others struggle with things like alopecia areata whose symptoms are unmistakable. We all have things we suffer from or struggle with – and we all want to be understood and accepted! September is Alopecia Awareness Month, and the theme is “Look at Us.” Let’s take a closer look at this common condition.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disorder that causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and other parts of the body. Nearly 7 million Americans (males and females of all ages and ethnicities) develop this condition during their lifetimes. In many cases, alopecia areata develops during childhood. The condition develops when a body’s immune system attacks healthy hair follicles, which causes them to shrink and considerably slow their production of hair, often completely stopping hair growth. Stress is believed to exacerbate the disorder.
What do the Symptoms Look Like?
Some people have alopecia universalis, meaning they have no hair anywhere on their body. Some people have alopecia totalis, which means they lose all of the hair on their scalp but have body and facial hair. Most people have alopecia areata patchy, which means they develop one or more hairless patches on their scalp or other areas of the body. Often, hair loss occurs in a very short time period.
In some cases, hair never grows back. In many cases, it does. Alopecia areata does not kill hair follicles, so hair may grow back at any time. Additionally, medications are available to stop the immune system from attacking follicles, and to stimulate the follicle to encourage hair growth.
Dealing with the Disorder
People you know or are familiar with probably have alopecia areata, but you may not know it. Actresses Neve Campbell, Viola Davis and Tyra Banks and late actor Christopher Reeve are just a few public figures who have dealt with alopecia areata. Some people prefer to mask the condition by wearing wigs, others don’t feel the need to hide their hair loss, and often welcome the opportunity to educate people about it.
Next time you see someone with patches of missing hair, missing eyebrows or eyelashes, or no hair at all, remind yourself that our differences make each of us who we are! If you are experiencing the devastating effects of hair loss and would like to learn more about the different wig options available to you, please request a free private, confidential consultation with a trained Transitions professional hair loss specialist by clicking here.
Photo Credit: cristhianelouback0 Via Pixabay