The Emotional Impact of Alopecia

Hair Loss Can Feel Overwhelming At Any Stage in Life

Whether you’re male, female, young or old, losing your hair and having your physical appearance change can cause distress. But you’re not alone!

Alopecia is not a life-threatening condition, but it can certainly change your life. There are three types of alopecia, which is a general term for hair loss. Alopecia areata is the most common and refers to coin-sized bald patches which appear on the scalp. If the entire scalp is affected, then this is known as alopecia totalis, and if it eradicates hair from the whole body, this is alopecia universalis.

Alopecia can affect any person, male or female at any stage in life. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the hair follicles, causing the hair to stop growing. Being diagnosed with alopecia at any time can be both shocking and distressing, which has a huge impact on your emotions.

When You’re Diagnosed

Before receiving a formal diagnosis, you or a family member may start to notice that your hair is falling out more rapidly than it should be. Sometimes it is other people close to you who spot that bald patches are forming on your head. This can be extremely hard to come to terms with, and waiting for an appointment with a GP, or a referral with a dermatologist can feel like an eternity. There are thought to be links between alopecia and stress, which becomes a vicious circle as it’s hard to stay relaxed when dealing with hair loss. You might also feel frustrated that there’s no cure for alopecia. Some people in the early stages of diagnosis may be given treatment, although this isn’t available on the NHS. Finasteride is suitable for male pattern baldness and minoxidil can be used for both male and female hair loss. The effectiveness of these drugs is limited as they don’t work on everyone and are expensive.

Alopecia in Children

Some people are diagnosed in early childhood, which may be easier as young children won’t know any different. However, youngsters will also have to contend with other schoolkids asking insensitive questions about why they haven’t got any hair. Secondary school children may find it particularly difficult as teenage years are often associated with body consciousness and the supposed importance of things like learning to style your hair or shape your eyebrows!

Alopecia in Adults

Both men and women can be affected – it may seem that men should be more prepared for hair loss, but even though society is used to seeing males with a bald head, it can still be distressing for a man to come to terms with a radical change in appearance. Feelings of frustration, anger and anxiety can be common across both sexes. Many women with alopecia opt to wear wigs for alopecia. These are customised for your individual style and head shape, allowing you to feel like you once again. Made from 100% real hair, these wigs are cool, comfortable and move perfectly to emulate a real head of hair. They’re a really important way for people to regain some confidence following a diagnosis of alopecia.

If you’re struggling with the emotions of alopecia, whether you’re recently diagnosed or have experienced the condition for some time, it can be comforting to share your story with others who may be going through the same situation. Reach out to a local alopecia support group or an online forum and pick up tips on how to cope, whilst letting out some of your feelings.