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I Have Alopecia. Now What?

January 8 2018

Vern Cole

I was recently diagnosed with Alopecia and I didn’t know what it even was?  After doing a whole bunch of online research and talking with my doctor and subsequently with a Dermatologist, I decided to document my experience and keep a journal. Vern Cole and his lovely wife Patsy have very graciously allowed me to share it here, because I thought that if I didn’t know what Alopecia was, there were probably a whole lot of other women who didn’t know either, and while I started out scared and feeling alone and very vulnerable, I ended up in a very wonderful place of confidence and hope.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned the word alopecia means “hair loss.” It was after complaining to my doctor about the clumps of hair that were falling out, and the bald patches developing around my ear. She diagnosed my condition as Alopecia Areata. I was told that Alopecia is a common form of hair loss for women over 50, and that there really isn’t anything to get worried about. I couldn’t help being worried and upset, my hair has always been one of my finest features, I want to keep it.

I dove into doing research on Alopecia. I found that there is a lot of information out there on all types of alopecia and how it affects men, women and also children. There are various remedies that are used. Most importantly, I found a hair loss replacement center that recommended the best possible way to manage my type of alopecia.

Alopecia… What Is It?

Alopecia Areata affects about 5 million people in the United States, that includes both female and males alike. It’s an autoimmune disease where the bodies own immune system attacks the hair follicles in the scalp which causes them to fall out. It is not uncommon to also have a tingling sensation in the balding areas of your scalp. A person’s genetic makeup, stress, an illness that can bring on the hormone fluctuation levels and be factors that cause alopecia. The result can be a single bald patch, or patches of  tremendous hair loss. On occasion the hair can grow back, but only to fall out again. Needless to say, having alopecia is a very frustrating experience.

Alopecia Totalis is an advanced form of Alopecia Areata. The result of this form causes a person to lose all hair on the scalp.

Alopecia Universalis is the most advanced form of alopecia. The result of this type causes total hair loss all over the body. This includes eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic Alopecia is a thinning of the hair to a very sparse state. For men, it is probably the most common type of hair loss and thought to be hereditary. Men that suffer with this type of alopecia hair loss have more distinct patterns of baldness that are also referred to as “male pattern baldness.” For women with this type of hair loss, have a more diffuse thinning that takes place all over the scalp.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss due to the excessive tension or pulling on the hair shafts. There are certain hairstyles that can cause this like ponytails, braids, and flat twists. It is more prevalent for women, especially those in East Indian and Afro-Caribbean origins. Hair loss can depend on the way the hair is being pulled. If you have prolonged traction alopecia, new hair follicles stop developing and that leads to permanent hair loss.

Anagen Effluvium

This type of hair loss is usually caused by chemicals like those used to treat cancer. The hair loss that happens typically is noticed initially in patches which can then become total hair loss. The good news is that when you stop the use of these chemicals, the hair usually grows back, but it can take up to 6 months or more. There are also several medications that when taken can cause the same hair loss.

Telogen Effluvium is another type of hair loss that happens when more hair than normal being to fall out. Unlike some other hair and scalp conditions, it is often temporary and the hair does grow back.

Female Hair Loss: Menopause and Beyond

For women with menopause, your estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. It is believed that this is the cause for the hair to begin to thin for some. Testing your blood sugar levels, thyroid function and for rheumatoid disease can also be suggested by your doctor to rule out any other causes for your hair loss. Women in menopause and post-menopause may find their doctors prescribe them with a limited-term prescription for estrogen, Rogaine (Minoxidil), steroids, or metformin (a drug often used with type 2 diabetes).

So What Did I Do?

A plan was put together for my alopecia issues, suggested by a hair loss consultant. Since my alopecia was somewhat under control, I under went low level laser light therapy treatments. This controlled the additional hair loss and helped to promote health hair growth.

I was lucky to find a treatment that was able to work for my hair loss issues. It gave me back a feeling of control over how I look again. The one thing I discovered in my research about Alopecia is that I wasn’t alone and that gave me some comfort at a time when I was so scared.

Marie

Editor’s Note:

At Hair Restoration Institute of Minnesota, we create custom hair loss solutions for everyone who walks through our doors. Our hand-crafted wigs, hair replacement systems and hair loss treatment programs are one-of-a-kind and designed with you, and only you, in mind.  Schedule a free no-obligation consultation today. Or call us at (612) 588-4247. We’ll show you just how easy it is to say goodbye to hair loss once and for all.

I Have Alopecia. Now What?