Another really useful article that demonstrates how profoundly hair affects everyone, particularly women.
What will it take for the medical profession to take this complaint seriously? In my experience, it’s those GPs who have either experienced hair loss themselves or a family member very close to them has.
How brave of Alice to share her story of disappointment from the lack of empathy from her own Doctor. Alopecia Areata rarely necessitates the use of topical steroid treatment, most patients who consult me with this condition have been to their doctor prior to seeing me and have been prescribed this!
What a shame the hairdresser didn’t refer Alice directly to a member of The Institute of Trichologists. It would have saved her not only the self-conscious emotions but the feelings of complete dismay.
I found it both interesting and dreadful in equal measure that a fellow client at the hair dresser wondered if the hair loss patch was skin cancer! Clearly the educational side of these conditions needs more exposure ( in fact the sufferer of a skin cancer would most likely feel the subject less taboo than a hair loss patch). Let us continue to take photos and talk about our hair!
I hope reading this, the degree to which hair loss affects the individual is realised. Alice mentions it affecting her friendships, marriage ( although her husband was quite supportive), work life and most importantly how she felt about herself.
I would expect a blood test to be carried out to include a full thyroid profile. To include possible slower growth I would also test: iron storage, B12 and vitamin D. There may be a history of other auto immune conditions in the family.
There is often involvement of the eyebrows and finger nails also.
My approach with these patients is, to be honest and explain the prognosis, whether the condition is currently active (if it’s likely to spread/enlarge), to treat with stimulants (not minoxodil), massage, ultra violet therapy and most importantly to support the individual emotionally. This final factor is critical ( and what the NHS don’t deliver sufficiently in my opinion) as this often stress/anxiety/emotional upset can not simply improve by rubbing something on the scalp alone. Nothing is that black and white, and as “stand off- ish” as throwing a prescription at someone in tears!
It’s all very well this article is providing statistics, but do those ” Googling “patches of hair loss” want to be a stat’? From the bystander’s point of view, it may be interesting to know how prevalent it is, but there’s no way the patient of Alopecia Areata would feel in any way comforted by this!
If a patient of mine asked me whether to take oral steroids my answer would always be “No”. My patients are able to regain a sense of control of the triggers to their condition and with my help and counsel, slow the loss and in most cases completely regrow the lost hair. As steroids do not target the right pathway, there’s a high chance of any possible regrowth that results in falling out again.
I would think in July 2011 either the health scare or other emotional triggers (possibly suppressed feelings not discussed) would be cause of the November patch- then talking to friends and family became the therapy that allowed around December, the activity of the condition to settle and result in February hair growth ( not the steroids). The placebo effect of doing something towards can help a little.
I agree more with Jennifer’s quote, she obviously understands the feelings connected with the loss of hair.
There is always a definite cause until this is established the patches will continue to appear. Being a patient of Alopecia Areata then becomes the stress that triggers more activity. The difference is whether a trained, experienced eye is examining the scalp and if the practitioner has one ear to hear and one to listen!