Alopecia Universalis sufferer Laura Hathaway has embraced her bald head after nine years of wearing wigs.
Laura has suffered with total hair loss from head to toe since the age of 36. It was her hairdresser who first noticed a bald patch on her head in December 2006, consistent with the often circular, patchy hair loss that signals Alopecia. Onset of the condition was rapid: within a week, hair was “raining” from her head and body, and she was completely hairless within a month of the hairdresser’s discovery.
Initially daunted by the “shock and awe” of her condition, Laura wore a wig “as a must for myself.” In the following nine years, she used her enjoyment of working out to reshape her body. She says that, as she cannot change her Alopecia Universalis, this competing gives her “goals to constantly improve” herself.
But Laura has now found her courage and decided to go public without her wig, a decision she felt empowered by and chose to celebrate with the viral video, below. She explained, “Turning 45 was an opportunity for me to shed some of the past. I decided it was my time to live with or without my hair. … I went to the gym today with no hair on. Now I will go with or without hair as a true choice.”
Alopecia Universalis is the rarest, and most severe, of all forms of Alopecia. Whilst Alopecia Areata causes patches of hair loss, which can sometimes lead to complete baldness, of the scalp and Alopecia Totalis causes hair growth across the whole head, including eyebrows and eyelashes, to stop, Alopecia Universalis involves losing all hair from the entire body. Universalis has also been known to damage or distort nail growth, leaving nails brittle.
Caused by a genetic mutation in sufferers’ chromosomes, Alopecia Universalis is a condition which is present from birth. However, it may not become noticeable until later on in life. The hair follicles to not die but lie dormant, and so sufferers may regrow their hair naturally – although it is impossible to predict if or when this may occur.
Whilst treatment for Alopecia Areata can produce significant regrowth, there is currently no proven cure for any type of Alopecia. Although there are some Alopecia Universalis treatments available, at present the most effective of these is Topical Immunotherapy, however the success rate of this method is only around 40%.
Researchers are constantly looking into all the various types of Alopecia in an effort to better understand these conditions, thought to be linked to the autoimmune system, in order to develop more effective treatments. Studies are currently being carried out into potential treatments for Alopecia Universalis, with JAK inhibitor drugs such as tofacitinib, also known as Xeljanz, being at the forefront of recent developments. Unfortunately, whilst study results were impressive, the number of side effects and risks associated with the drug was of particular concern so research is still on-going.
Should you start to experience patchy hair loss, consult a hair loss specialist as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose your condition and discuss your treatment options with you, as well as providing advice and support during what can be a difficult and emotional time.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.