Leading hair loss charity Alopecia UK is marking this year's Alopecia Awareness Month by celebrating different people affected by autoimmune hair loss disorders.
By sharing personal stories via their social media channels, the charity is spreading helpful information and increasing recognition of this group of conditions, known as Alopecia Areata. They are also encouraging those with hairloss to talk about their experiences, by using the hashtag '#GetTalking'.
Alopecia Areata, which causes patchy hair loss of the scalp only, also has more extreme phenotypes, including Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis. These cause total baldness of the head and from head to toe, respectively. There are also additional forms of autoimmune hair loss, all of which can affect men, women and children.
Very little is known as to the precise biomechanism of Alopecia Areata, however, it is widely believed to be the result of some form of 'shock' to the body which causes the hair growth cycle to become stuck in its resting (Telogen) phase. Triggers for this are thought to include sudden trauma, extreme stress, chemicals, viral or bacterial infection, and a genetic link is also suspected. The outcome is sudden hair fall - as opposed to the gradually thinning hair seen with genetic hair loss conditions.
In cases of Alopecia Areata this leaves behind rounded bald patches which can be as small as a coin, and can be singular or appear in multiples. They can also join up to form larger patches. This tends to reverse itself in many cases, though when or if this will happen cannot be predicted. Additionally, the hairloss may recur at a later date.
In cases of Alopecia Totalis the hair fall is more extreme as the shedding quickly progresses to baldness of the head - including facial hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. Whilst for Alopecia Universalis this also includes losing all body hair, too.
Whilst there are effective alopecia areata treatment options available for those aged 16 and over, currently the more severe alopecia variations are untreatable. Research is on-going in these areas, however, and the first ever treatment option - believed to come in topical and oral forms - is currently estimated to have a 2020/2021 release date. This is based on the outcome of clinical trials going to plan and the outcomes meeting with the approval of medical licensing agencies such as the MHRA and FDA.
Alopecia UK is one of a small number of charities working to provide support to people of all ages who are affected by hair loss, as well as their friends and families. In addition to online and social media resources, the charity arranges local support groups and hold an annual get-together known as their Big Day Out.
This takes place each September - given this is Alopecia Awareness month - in a different UK venue each time. This year's event takes place from 22nd to 24th September in Birmingham.
The charity also fundraises and had a number of supporters take part in the Great North Run at the weekend.
One of these was Sue from Cheshire who also appears in the #GetTalking campaign. In response to the question 'How has alopecia had a positive impact on your life?', Sue gave the following response:
"Dealing with the emotional impacts of losing my hair has helped me develop a real sense of myself. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I know I am more strong, brave and resilient than ever and as a direct result of this I am doing more of the work I love."
Other queries posed to people with Alopecia include: "What advice do you have for parents of children with alopecia?", "How has alopecia shaped the person you are today?" and "What has most surprised you about having alopecia?".
To find out the answers and see the inspiring stories being posted daily throughout September as part of Alopecia Awareness Month, visit the Alopecia UK Facebook page.
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.
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