A young man from Northern Ireland has helped create a fun and light-hearted animated video to help draw attention to the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata and related conditions which lead to hair loss.
Gareth Chandler, 20, from Annaghmore, was assisted in the production of his three-and-a-half minute clip by the Lottery-funded organisation Fixers, which helps young people to “use their past to fix the future.” Gareth’s short film, which has been posted to YouTube, features a cute cartoon drawing of a young boy (himself) trying to come to terms with his sudden hair loss.
Hair fell out aged seven
Gareth, who provides the narration for the video, explains that his hair began to fall out when he was seven. “I didn’t know what was going on and the doctors tried to help but they couldn’t because not a lot is known about Alopecia,” he says. “It upset my parents so much they tried to find a solution by themselves.”
In the animation – which you can watch below – a woman clearly meant to be Gareth’s mum then jokingly says: “Let’s rub another onion on your head.” Continues below
Alopecia Areata is the second most common cause of hair loss behind genetic baldness (male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss) but that doesn’t diminish the surprise and worry when a child, or adult, suddenly starts losing their hair to it. At school, Gareth says he had a fear of people saying things like, “Oh, you’re bald” or, “Do you have cancer?”, which both happened regularly. Sometimes, he says, these remarks were asked quite innocently; other times children were just being mean.
Gareth states in the clip that he was even worried as a child that his hair loss would mean he may never get a job. “I know that sounds silly now,” he says, “but as a child it was a real concern.”
He goes on to explain that he struggled with self-confidence and missed out when it came to making friends because he was ill at ease socially. Finding little support in his community, he decided to set up a Facebook group – and to make his short video.
“The biggest problem is that there is very little awareness of Alopecia in the UK, which frustrates me because it has a massive impact on the lives of people like me,” he states. He says that his support group has not only had a positive impact on many of the group’s members, but that it has been beneficial to him, too. “I have taken to controlling my alopecia rather than it controlling me,” he says.
The video has an upbeat tone to it and would be just the thing to show to a youngster with Alopecia – be that Alopecia Areata or its more severe sister conditions Alopecia Universalis and Alopecia Totalis.
Hair loss support improving
Support for people with the condition is steadily improving, and charity organisations such as Alopecia UK and aar-uk.org offer help and guidance for those with the condition. For children with hair loss there is also the option of getting a real-hair wig free of charge from the Little Princess Trust.
Whilst there are effective Alopecia Areata treatments available for over 16s – at Belgravia we have seen many successful regrowth stories from treating clients with topical applications of high strength minoxidil products – there are currently no truly worthwhile treatments for Alopecia Universalis or Totalis.
There are a number of on-going trials trying to develop new treatments, with the area of JAK inhibitors being a particularly fruitful area of research at present. Both oral and topical medications from different branches of the Janus Kinase inhibitor family of drugs are being tested and some, such as Tofacitinib and Ruxolitinib have produced encouraging regrowth results for people with the severe types of alopecia areata, although none are yet ready for release.
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.