TV presenter and Alopecia Areata sufferer Gail Porter has recently talked about her experience of life without hair after hearing about Moira Cameron, the Beefeater who went bald after being bullied by work colleagues. Porter, 38, told The Sun that she was diagnosed five years ago while she was going through her divorce. At the time Porter was working in the USA and noticed bald patches on her head. “I’d wake up with mouthfuls of it because so much would fall out overnight and the bathroom plughole would be blocked,” explains Porter.
Hair loss is a difficult thing to face but the sudden shedding that is often involved with Alopecia Areata can be particularly distressing. Porter said she became tearful and cried all the way back from America. She was most concerned about frightening her daughter, Honey, who was 2 at the time. Infact, little Honey thought her mummy’s bald head was cool.
Porter says she chose not to wear a wig because she found them uncomfortable. Life is still not easy for Porter who says lots of kids point at her and people stare. She says some people mistakenly think she has cancer. “Sometimes I held my head up high and other times I just didn’t want to go out. But the support of my friends and family helped build my confidence. The letters and emails of support from other alopecia sufferers were also amazing.” Porter says Moira Cameron should get in touch with alopecia support groups as “it has helped me enormously” and says the best advice is “to get on with your life and think positively”.
Alopecia Areata is caused by an auto-immune disorder and causes bald patches. Sometimes this progresses to Alopecia Totalis (total loss of scalp hair) or Alopecia Universalis (total loss of scalp and body hair). Porter developed Alopecia Universalis and lost her eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair. “Losing my eyebrows and eyelashes was pretty upsetting – I felt I looked strange, like someone had just rubbed me out,” reveals Porter.
In 2006 Porter made a documentary for the BBC in which she tried a number of treatments including steroids and laser therapy, but she found nothing worked. Porter said some of the treatments even made her feel worse. Porter didn’t say whether or not she tried using Minoxidil, the only hair loss treatment with sufficient evidence to show it is both safe and effective. Even if Porter did try Minoxidil she may have used it in a formula that was not suited to her condition. The Belgravia Centre has found success treating mild or early stage Alopecia Areata by using a unique Minoxidil product. Belgravia’s in-house pharmacy prepares Minoxidil 12.5% cream with added Azelaic Acid (AA). In this prescription-only treatment, AA may inhibit the enzyme 5 alpha reductase – which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT attacks the hair follicles and slows hair growth. Minoxidil 12.5% and AA compliment each other which means that the treatment can be highly effective at working on stubborn patches of hair loss. To see the kind of results a tailored treatment course can produce, take a look at the Alopecia Areata Before and During Treatment Photos.
With regards to laser therapy, the Belgravia Centre offers the HairMax LaserComb as a hair growth booster to be used alongside proven treatments (such as Minoxidil). It is not recommended for use as a stand alone hair loss treatment.
While knowledge about Alopecia Areata is still relatively minimal, if it is diagnosed early, it can be treated. In some cases, the hair regrows on its own, however there is no way of telling if or when this will happen. Porter’s eyebrows and lashes recently grew back and three months ago patches of hair began to grow on her head. While Porter says she does not know for sure why her hair has started to re-grow, she says she has made changes to her lifestyle and exercises more, relaxes more and feels more grateful for things in her life.
If you are concerned about hair loss, a specialist will be able to diagnose the condition and discuss treatment options. The Belgravia Centre has a team of highly qualified and experienced specialists who are available for consultations 7 days a week. To book an appointment (which is free) just call 020 7730 6666 or message the centre. Alternatively, complete the online diagnostic form for a consultation via the website and a mail order treatment service.