Inspired by Hazel
This month’s blog is inspired by an article we recently came across, about a hairstylist named Hazel who was diagnosed with Alopecia at the age of 2. She tells a beautiful story of finally coming out after 2 decades of hiding with bandanas, hats and wigs. Being bullied and taunted as a child encouraged her to share her story to bring awareness to this condition. Hazel says “My mum has been my rock, she’s always made me feel confident….But, now I want to help and inspire others, even if my hair could grow back I’m not sure if I would want it too – I believe I am the beautiful person I am because of alopecia.”
Her goal is to make those with Alopecia feel connected, remind them they are not alone and that they are BEAUTIFUL.
So what exactly is Alopecia?
Alopecia is an incurable autoimmune skin disease in which your immune system directly attacks your hair follicles. The symptoms usually start with small clumps of hair falling out, leaving smooth round spots on the scalp or the hair can break off leaving short stubs. Hair loss is not limited to the scalp. Alopecia can affect any hair on your body – your lashes, eyebrows, a man’s beard, or any other body hair. And while this syndrome typically surfaces during childhood, it holds no preference to any age, race or sex.
An estimated 147 million people worldwide are effected by Alopecia, many who have it their whole lives. While there is no cure for this disease yet, it is not typically a lifelong diagnosis. Only about 10% of people diagnosed are at risk of the hair not growing back. There are a number of signs that can show you’re at risk of your hair not growing back such as having another autoimmune disease, being prone to allergies, or excessive hair loss for more than a year.
There are lots of factors that contribute to developing this complex condition. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what triggers the immune system to attack healthy hair follicles. It’s also up for question whether Alopecia is hereditary or not. Scientists believe there are multiple factors, both genetic and environmental that contribute to triggering this disease. Both parents must contribute a number of specific genes in order to pass it onto their child. In fact, most diagnosed – will not pass Alopecia along to their children.
There are many different types of Alopecia, but the following are three established categories of Alopecia to make it easier to diagnose:
Alopecia Areata Patchy – The most common form, with one or more coin-sized hairless patches on the scalp or other areas of the body.
Alopecia Totalis – Total loss of the hair on the scalp.
Alopecia Universalis – Complete loss of hair on the scalp, face and body.
Because Alopecia is incurable, there is no real treatment. There are many helpful topical ointments, or oral and injectable medications available. As well as a variety of treatment options available for disrupting or distracting the immune attack and/or stimulating the hair follicle — especially for those who have milder forms of the disease. Besides that, many utilize wigs or hair pieces. And a magical select few have decided to just dive into the beautiful bold world of being bald!
The important thing to remember is that this disease does not define you! Get educated, get a cute hair scarf if you want and EMBRACE YOUR INDIVIDUAL BEAUTY!