There’ve been quite a few comments from people worried that they might have alopecia, and many of you are saying ‘oh I’m in the shower and I’m getting loads of hair down the plughole or it’s coming out in my bed, or when I brush my hair’. The thing is that there is a difference between hair fall and alopecia itself. Alopecia we define as coin sized bald patches, so if you haven’t got any bald patches, you haven’t got alopecia. Very often you can experience hair fall due to things like iron deficiency, a thyroid problem or low levels of vitamin and minerals. So it’s really, really important, for these people who’ve put these messages on here, to go and have some basic blood tests from your GP.
I’ve had a question from an eighteen year old who’s had alopecia areata for a year and she tells me that she’s been to see a trichologist, which is a hair expert, who told her to come off the contraceptive pill because this could be the cause. My feeling with this is that there’s no medical evidence to suggest the contraceptive pill causes alopecia areata. We think of it as an auto-immune condition, where your body rejects your hair, rather than due to anything that you’re putting into your body yourself, such as the pill. So, in terms of the concerns that it might cause it, I think they’re unfounded. Probably for me most important, is if you’ve had alopecia areata for a year, it really is worth asking your GP to refer you to a dermatologist, because there are treatments that can be tried, ranging from injections to creams, so it’s really, really important to get this assessed further.
Lots of you are worried about stress and hair loss, and without a doubt, it’s very, very true, stress can make your hair fall out. We often see women for example who’ve had babies or we see people who’ve been through a very, very stressful time lose hair, and this generally tends to occur about a month to two months after the stressful event. We call this telogen effluvium. Rest assured, the hair tends to grow back, it usually is back to normal in about three to six months, so don’t despair. If you’re someone who has general levels of stress and again you feel your hair is thinning, or it’s falling out, have a look at your stress levels and also examine things like your nutrition, like your iron and your thyroid function, and make sure there aren’t any medical factors contributing to it. But again rest assured, if you haven’t got bald patches, then hopefully, this is just a transient event.
There’s lots of women leaving comments on here about hair loss and their concerns and understandably because, let’s face it, it is really our crowning glory. Now there is something that you need to be really, really careful of and that’s alopecia due to traction. Many women who braid their hair really tightly or maybe have to wear something like a headpiece or are addicted to the straighteners, so they’re pulling and putting their hair under traction on a daily basis can cause damage to the hair follicles, and as a result this can give rise to bald patches. So if you have been noticing bald patches and you think you are putting your hair under too much stress or traction then stop, use an alternative hair maintenance regime, because otherwise you could end up having a very bad hair day indeed.
If you’re suffering from alopecia or just simple hair fall then do seek some help. Yes we may not have a magic cure but there are certainly things that may facilitate hair re-growth faster. These could be things which include vitamin supplements and mineral supplements to specific treatments for bald patches of alopecia such as ointments, immunotherapy or injections, and those of you who are despondent or have had this problem for a long time, remember, if medical treatment has failed you there’s always the option of seeing a trichologist and having either a bespoke wig made or even a weave into your existing hair. The results are amazing and I can assure you they will change your confidence dramatically.
Doctor Responses: Alopecia
Alopecia affects a remarkable number of us at one time or another, and the Embarrassing Bodies website has been inundated with questions about the condition.
In this video Dr Pixie answers some of the most common questions we’ve received, helping to arm you with the facts about alopecia. The majority of these questions were posted by viewers on our alopecia condition guide.
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