About two years ago now, just after I started my first full-time job out of university, I was sat playing with my hair at my desk when I felt a tiny little bald spot on my head. It was small, really small and hidden under my thick long hair but my heart sank and I was panicking, devastated, thinking about every scenario possible and worrying myself. I was suffering from Alopecia, Alopecia Areata to be precise.
Alopecia Areata is also known as 'Spot baldness' and can affect not just the hair on your head but your eyebrows too. It's believed to be an autoimmune disease and can be triggered by stress. The patches can be as small as a coin but as big as a golf ball and for some sufferers it can be permanent. Unfortunately, there is no known cure.
I can understand why I started to suffer; I have an under-active thyroid condition, which can trigger it but the main culprit was definitely stress. I'd just finished university where I was independent, living with friends and doing my own thing. I then moved home and applied for job after job after job - getting to the last stage to only be disappointed. So when I finally received a job offer, it was a relief but I think my immune system had suffered too much by then and it was just too late.
The small patch turned into a large patch; I hid it well and no one knew about it apart from those close to me and even some of the people close to me didn't know. It was embarrassing and I sort of felt ashamed, which I now know wasn't the attitude I needed to have to help the situation and make me feel better. For a woman to lose her hair, it's devastating and this is mostly due to the lack of consideration within our society for women who suffer from hair loss.
For women it's a disgrace, it's a disgust but for men, it's seen as normal. Why isn't female hair loss seen as normal? Since moving to London, I've seen lots more women with hair loss, female pattern baldness and Alopecia - it is an issue and it is becoming more common. There needs to be less judgement against women who have female hair loss because the more it becomes seen as 'normal' the more us women are able to walk around in public without worrying about everyone's perceptions.
To try and help any of you who might be suffering I wanted to share what I've done to help minimise the Alopecia and hair loss and hopefully this will help you - I spent weeks Googling everything and months trying different solutions and vitamins to try and help and I've managed to find things that work for me - so I hope this can help you:
- Stop worrying! Easier said than done but once you stop and you forget about the hair loss it gets better and your scalp is able to restore itself.
- Try caffeine shampoo to help the hair fall reduce, I tried Alpecin but that didn't do much and was ridiculously expensive. I then found JoBaz, it's available to buy in Savers and honestly has helped reduce my hair fall considerably. For a budget shampoo, I was sceptical but it really worked.
- Try speaking to a trichologist. I went to The Private Clinic and invested an obscene amount of money but I'm so glad I did. My trichologist gave me insightful advice and told me what blood tests I needed to get done at the GP so I could check there wasn't an underlying issue causing the Alopecia. My trichologist also provided me with a stimulating spray, which has helped the lost hair to re-grow.
- Try researching into hair styling tools that don't damage your hair and still provide you with salon style results. I was always wary of using products that pull on my hair or use too much heat but when you're heading out for the evening you still want to do something to your hair to give it extra volume and shine. I tried using normal straighteners but I could feel it was still drying my hair out. I then tried a two in one styling tool from Revlon called the salon one step hair dryer and volumizer. The tool allows me to skip one step and dry and lightly curl my hair at the same time. I now use it on a daily basis as it gives me an old Hollywood style curl and helps give my hair volume to disguise the thinness and bald spots.
- Rub hair oil onto your bald patches! Don't ask me how this works but it does and it really helps to condition the new hair that's regrowing through. I use both normal coconut oil as well as Ojon, instant restorative hair serum. I tried Ojon when I read on an Alopecia forum that it worked for some other people who were suffering and I have noticed a difference!
- Massage your scalp. It sounds odd but massaging the areas with the Alopecia patch will help to increase circulation and stimulate the scalp from within. Try introducing it within your shampoo and conditioner routine.
- Try a hair growth supplement. I've been using Viviscal for about two years now. I first heard about it from Keeping up with the Kardashians (guilty pleasure) because Rob Kardashian was using it for his male pattern baldness. My trichologist also recommended it and I definitely have seen an improvement. I wouldn't say it helps with the Alopecia but it helps with general hair loss and strengthens the hair you do have and helps it grow.
Since I first started suffering I've had three patches in total come and go and at present, it's grown back and my hair is starting to recover. I know I'll always suffer from Alopecia but I've actually grown to like it. It's something different and something that's a part of me and that's the attitude to have because the more you worry, the more your hair will fall out and the more it falls out the more you worry. It's a vicious cycle but I'm confident that female hair loss can one day be seen as the norm.