Imagine waking up and discovering a bald patch on your head. That’s what happened to me at the start of last month. I was merely putting my hair into a ponytail when I noticed a bare spot on my head. It was a horrifying thing to find and something I haven’t taken very well. Hence my recent withdrawal from Twitter and my blog.
Getting a diagnosis
Luckily, my GP is great and after an initial phone consultation where I was in floods of tears, she agreed to see me. She immediately diagnosed me with alopecia areata, ordered blood tests and sent me on my way with a print out. At the time, it felt like enough, but as the days and weeks went on, I realised I needed more.
What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata typically presents as small patches of hair loss. The scalp will be smooth to touch and other areas of the body, such as the eyebrows can be affected too. It is defined as an autoimmune condition. These conditions occur when the body mistakenly attacks itself. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, 4 out of 5 individuals with alopecia areata will experience complete regrowth within a year.
Finding an answer
The most frustrating thing about alopecia areata is that it’s not possible to determine the cause. My blood tests came back clear, so I wasn’t dealing with an underlying condition. My doctor said it was likely stress. But other than dealing with the emotional impact that losing my hair had caused, I wasn’t stressed. So I searched high and low on Google trying to find an answer. I’d been on a low carb diet in the weeks leading up to my hair loss and research shows a connection between the two. I also considered other auto immune diseases including coeliac disease, something which runs in my family and is a reported cause of alopecia areata.
The emotional impact
At present, I’ve got three bald patches on my head. Two of which are particularly large and are starting to merge together. Luckily, I can cover them all with the remainder of my hair, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about my condition.
Whenever I see the patches it makes me feel sad, angry, annoyed and confused. I know I should be grateful that this is my only health concern and that I don’t have anything more serious. But, I can’t help but feel saddened by something that’s so uncontrollable and which could potentially get worse.
I don’t yet feel brave enough to share the photos of my hair. I’ve only told a handful of people about my alopecia areata. Meanwhile, just two loved ones and my hairdresser have seen it. But maybe talking about it more and sharing my feelings on here will give me the strength to reveal them one day.
Have you experienced alopecia areata? How did you feel following your diagnosis?