It is often reported how lonely and unsupported people with severe hair loss can feel. This is especially true of those affected by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
Around one million people in the UK are affected by this condition, which can affect any age group and cause anything from patchy bald spots to complete baldness, yet it remains relatively enigmatic.
As so little is known about the precise cause of Alopecia Areata and its related conditions, including Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis, those affected can feel incredibly frustrated with the lack of information available. In lieu of this, peer support can be invaluable.
Many people may be familiar with the charity Alopecia UK which has support and education groups across the country and holds an annual get together known as the 'Big Weekend'. Their campaigns for alopecia awareness have helped to shine a light on this condition which can sometimes, upsettingly be mistaken for hair loss from cancer.
Having previously hosted events in Scotland and across the UK, now the charity Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK (AAR-UK) is also encouraging people to join them at their first London meet-up later this month. The invitation applies whether you are directly affected by Alopecia Areata or whether it affects someone you know and you want to be able to better understand and support them.
Taking place near Belgravia's flagship hair loss clinic in Victoria, the inaugural London meet and greet is free to attend and starts at 2.30pm on Saturday 29th October 2016. It will be held at the Plumbers Arms pub (London SW1W 0LN).
This will be followed by a number of events across the country, details of which will be available via their website and Facebook page.
AAR-UK was established in 2013 and - having helped to fund the first Alopecia Biobank in the UK - has funding research into the cause of Alopecia Areata at its core. It is hoped that once the cause is better understood, a cure could be easier to establish. In the meantime the organisation hopes to provide 'hope and confidence' to those affected.
As AAR-UK's Fundraising and Research Coordinator, Eleanor Harding explains, the condition can have 'devastating effects, both physical and psychological on the individual and their families'. Yet despite this, it is often dismissed as a purely 'cosmetic issue'.
Although very little alopecia research has been done during the past 30 years, recently a slew of trials have surfaced - a number of which are providing significant results in early testing scenarios.
Studies into the use of drugs for other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are still in the initial stages but the group of drugs - known as JAK inhibitors - are showing promise. This is especially true for the most extreme iterations of autoimmune hair loss as, despite there being no effective treatment for alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis currently available, these drugs are managing to provide regrowth for some patients with these conditions.
Clinical trials into the potential safety and efficacy of using drugs such as ruxolitinib and tofacitinib on a long term basis may take many years yet to produce satisfactory results. However, whilst those with the mild to moderate form can already take advantage of effective Alopecia Areata treatments, it is important that research into the condition itself is on-going.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.