An 18-year-old British model whose hair loss was caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata has explained in an interview how he was worried about how people would view him when he started losing all his hair.
Sam Collet, from Surrey, was talking to fashion magazine i-D about how he has risen from schoolboy to something approaching superstar status in just two short years. His sleek, bald look and charming uniqueness having landed him a prestigious modelling contract with the edgy high fashion brand Rick Owens, and jobs with acclaimed photographers including Tim Walker.
But just five years ago, Collet’s life was a very different story. Barely into his teens, the sudden, patchy hair loss that began when he was four escalated to total baldness. “I started to feel really self-conscious about how people would view me and what they would assume was going on with me,” he tells i-D. His initial reaction was to cover up the shedding with hats, but before long he thought, “Why bother?” and went out with his head uncovered.
“People didn't react the way I was expecting,” says Collet. “Everyone was surprisingly understanding, or concerned if I was OK. Lots of people said that they wouldn't have been able to cope the same way I did, because I just took it on the chin and said, ‘This is who I am now, so let's roll with it.’”
From photographs that accompany the i-D article, as well as those on the website of his agent, MiLK Management, it would appear that Collet has a rare form of Alopecia Areata. Either Alopecia Totalis, which causes total baldness of the whole head, eyebrows and eyelashes included, or - if the hair loss extends to his body as well - Alopecia Universalis.
Unlike Alopecia Areata treatment, which Belgravia specialists have found can often produce encouraging hair growth results, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis treatment is less advanced and currently widely regarded as unsuccessful.
Many Belgravia clients with Alopecia Areata have seen significant regrowth from following a bespoke treatment course that features topical applications of high strength minoxidil in recommended formulations. This is in spite of minoxidil only being licensed by the MHRA and FDA to treat the genetic conditions Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss. However, minoxidil has little or no effect on these more extreme forms of the autoimmune disorder.
Whilst relatively little is known about the mechanisms of these conditions, they are all thought to manifest themselves after some kind of trigger incident. Commonly these include sudden shock, severe stress, physical trauma or allergies, though there is also believed to be a genetic link. According to the i-D article, Collet attributes his own hair fall to anxiety.
The good news is that the 6ft 2.5 in model is now comfortable in his skin and enjoying his life in front of the camera. Asked about his thoughts on modelling, he said: “Before I started it didn't mean anything much. It was a completely unknown world, almost like walking into Narnia for the first time. It's eventually become like second nature to me. Now I love it and all the adventure it brings.”
For people with pronounced Alopecia Areata and its more severe sister conditions who are less at ease with their shedding, help may be at hand in the form of new research coming chiefly from the US, where a range of drugs known as JAK inhibitors are proving to show promise at regrowing autoimmune-related hair loss in early trials.
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.