Fox TV’s Gotham, a dark and brooding drama featuring the Mafia, some classic DC Comics villains and Bruce ‘Batman’ Wayne, has been winning rave reviews since its launch last year. It has also offered US actor Anthony Carrigan the chance to stop hiding his hair loss, and embrace the Alopecia Areata he has had since he was three.
Shaved off remaining hair
Carrigan was already well-known to TV audiences for his roles in the shows Parenthood and The Forgotten – he was seen sporting a full head of hair in both – but having shaved off his remaining hair for the part of Kyle Nimbus in The Flash last year, he decided to stick with it for his bigger role in Gotham.
“I grew up with it, and it was always very manageable,” he says. “I only had spots so I always covered it up. I was always very embarrassed about it.”
The actor goes on to explain that even when he was into his 20s his autoimmune condition – which seemingly progressed to the more severe form of either Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis, he does not specify which but both cause the eyebrows and lashes to fall out – could be hidden, and that very few of his friends even knew about it.
Taking control brought confidence – and work
Carrigan says that his main motivation was to not let his hair loss get in the way of acting jobs – difficult, he says, when he was on TV every week in front of an audience of millions and “I had lost half of my scalp, both eyebrows and the majority of my eyelashes.”
But covering up – on the advice on friends and business associates – to hide his hair loss, he tells Buzzfeed, became “pretty terrifying.” Red carpet events, he says, were worst, because he would be “putting my eyebrows on before going out and hoping that no one would notice.”
Recalling feeling uncomfortable depicting himself as characters with hair when he didn’t really look like that, Corrigan says he felt enormous pressure not to be found out. But keeping his condition a secret eventually became too much.
“I got to the point where I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to just feel OK with the way that I looked so I shaved my head and I stopped wearing makeup,” says the Bostonian – and the outcome was phenomenal.
“Immediately I started booking work, but the work was just a byproduct. The most important thing was that I just felt so good to not have to hide anymore, to own the way that I am and feel really good about it, feel really positive about the way that I look. That took a lot of work.”
Alopecia Areata not uncommon
Alopecia Areata is by no means uncommon, affecting up to two per cent of the population worldwide. While not in any way a danger to health in its own right, it can be extremely distressing to people who have it, especially due to a lack of general awareness of the condition. The hair loss can often be mistaken for the results of cancer treatment – something Anthony Carrigan was very clear to reassure people about in his interview.
Part of the problem with Alopecia Areata is not knowing if the condition will heal on its own – as happens in around 70 per cent of cases – or if it will continue for many years or even indefinitely.
Characterised by sudden, patchy hair loss of the scalp, Alopecia Areata results in rounded or oval bald spots, but can develop into something much more severe. Alopecia Totalis is a more severe form of the condition and causes total hair loss of the head, whilst Alopecia Universalis is the most extreme version and leads to a complete lack of hair all over the body, from head to toe.
There are a number of Alopecia Areata treatment options that can help the condition in its mild-to-moderate form. Hair loss specialists at Belgravia often see inspiring regrowth results from the use of home-use high strength minoxidil which clients apply directly to their bald patches in order to help promote regrowth. Treatment for Alopecia Totalis and Universalis, however, generally takes place in hospitals and currently has a low success rate of up to 10 per cent, although research into potentially more effective treatments, such as Xeljanz, looks promising for the future.
For Carrigan, his struggles with Alopecia have been something of a roller-coaster ride. Today, he says, he is happy with his look, and “feels really positive about it”. But it didn’t happen overnight.
“It was very incremental,” he says. “It took a lot of positivity and a lot of compassion and reinforcement, but I eventually got to this place where I was proud of the way that I look. I thought that it was super cool and unique and strange and different. As soon as I embraced that and started carrying myself in that way, all of a sudden that’s how everyone began to see me. So that was great!”
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.