This autoimmune disorder, which has several suspected “triggers”, including psychological and long-term chronic stress, physical trauma and sudden extreme stress, sometimes leads to total hair loss on the whole body, as well as the head. When it does, the condition is named Alopecia Universalis, and it is something that Ahern now has.
Key part of identity
Rather than shy away from his baldness, or attempt to conceal it with a wig, Bus Vipers appears to have embraced his hair loss and made it very much a key part of his identity. If the videos for two tracks from his debut EP are anything to go by, the multi-instrumentalist seems more than comfortable in his own skin.
The EP is called Federal Highway, and features a picture of Ahern’s bald head, with no eyelashes or eyebrows, emerging from a pile of sand on the cover; visual imagery that is very much in keeping with the theme of the videos for both CSIRO Weeds and Fluid – two songs which can be found on the new release – which feature Ahern, often naked, in a variety of artistic scenes.
Rolling Stone described the video for Fluid, the most recently-released of the two, as “beautifully bizarre”, and for anyone with Alopecia Areata and its related conditions it is sure to be inspiring. Continues below…
Unfortunately, what often happens when people lose all or a significant amount of their hair to these autoimmune disorders is that their self-esteem is severely dented. It’s something that England rugby star Heather Fisher – who started losing her hair to Alopecia Areata in her mid 20s – has spoken about at length. “I felt really ugly,” she said of how she felt after first shaving off the last few strands of hair she had left. “And to a certain extent, I still do.”
Options when alopecia is severe are few and far between, though Alopecia Areata treatment can be effective on people aged 16 and over with patchy hair loss of the scalp only. At Belgravia, a fully rounded treatment course based around topical applications of high strength minoxidil from the recommended formulations available at Belgravia’s in-clinic pharmacies is often used to help promote regrowth, alongside additional hair growth boosters.
While Bus Vipers appears unlikely to be interested in any kind of products that would bring back his hair, many others with Alopecia Universalis are awaiting the possibility of new treatment options based around drugs known as JAK inhibitors. Initial trials suggest that these show great promise at growing back hair even on completely bald heads, though regulatory issues mean that it is likely to be at least a few years before any such products are cleared for wider use.
Different types of hair loss
Interestingly, the word “Alopecia” is sometimes misused by the media, who incorrectly use it when they are referring to other types of hair loss. The word ‘alopecia’ does simply mean ‘hair loss’ though it has come to be shorthand for autoimmune hair loss rather than other conditions that cause thinning hair.
Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss, for example, are genetic conditions rather than autoimmune disorders, though these two can correctly (if confusingly) be described as “alopecia”, meaning “androgenetic alopecia” rather than alopecia areata.
For anyone perplexed about their type of hairloss – and it’s worth remembering that some conditions share similarities plus it is possible to have more than one hair loss condition simultaneously – a visit to a specialist is always a good idea, not least because the support and guidance offered alongside tailored treatment recommendations can be extremely beneficial, even if it’s just in putting your mind at rest.
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.