The hair loss condition Alopecia Areata often strikes at a young age, but rarely as early as it has in the case of Joe Haynes, who is only three years old. The West Virginia boy’s mother recently told his story to local newspaper, the Gazette Mail, revealing that he was only 15 months old when his hair began to fall out in clumps.
Doctors were initially baffled by Joe’s condition, and the family feared the worst. It was only when they took their son to a paediatric dermatologist in Pennsylvania that they discovered that he was suffering from Alopecia. His mother, Stephanie Haynes, told how she was initially relieved to find out that it was, “only hair,” rather than anything more dangerous. But that relief is slowly turning to worry as Joe approaches school age, and she is worried that he will be singled out because of his appearance.
“He’s so easy to pick out and you remember him … kids will be curious and some will be mean,” she said. Mrs Haynes also told how people who approach her often fear the worst, believing that he has a terminal illness such as cancer.
Joe’s condition has now advanced to the stage known as Alopecia Universalis, and he has lost all the hair on his body, including his eyebrows. Interestingly, he had a full head of hair when he was born.
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy hair follicles, causing the affected hairs to fall out and preventing re-growth. The exact cause of the illness remains unknown, yet it often resolves itself naturally over time, though it may later reoccur.
The condition often appears for the first time during childhood, though rarely as young as in Joe’s case.
His mother spoke of her frustration at the lack of support available for sufferers of childhood Alopecia, and said that she plans to form a support group in the West Virginia area to reach out to others.
“I know how difficult it is for us, and I would like to help other families in the same situation, or connect with other families who have experience with Alopecia,” Mrs Haynes told the newspaper.
Support for Alopecia sufferers
In the UK there are a range of charities and support groups that provide information and support to Alopecia sufferers, though none specifically aimed at childhood Alopecia. There are however a number of charities that specialise in providing wigs and hairpieces to children who suffer from Alopecia, as well as hair loss related to cancer treatments. One of these is The Little Princess Trust, which was founded by the parents of a young girl who died of cancer after they saw her struggle with losing her hair due to chemotherapy.
Unfortunately in the case of Joe Haynes, his Alopecia may well be permanent, due to the early age at which he has lost his hair and the total extent of the loss.
For more information on Alopecia Areata and other hair loss conditions, please browse the resources contained within the Belgravia Centre website. If your child is suffering from hair loss then you should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Adults suffering from hair loss conditions, meanwhile, may benefit from contacting the Belgravia Centre for a no-obligation consultation, or from filling in our online diagnostic form.