Some men catch a glimpse of what they think is a receding hairline and freak out. Some women are distressed to see a widening centre-part when they look in the mirror. For alopecia totalis and universalis sufferers, dealing with complete baldness is a whole other playing field.
Alopecia totalis and universalis are variations of alopecia areata at its most extreme. Alopecia areata is characterised by patchy hair loss that can, in 70% of cases, correct itself
or if not has a good chance of being reversed with hair loss treatments. Alopecia totalis on the other hand results in the total loss of scalp hair and universalis extends to total body hair loss, and there is no cure.
It is not known why a person will suffer just a few bald patches and another experience total hair loss but all three conditions are believed to be the result of the same mechanism. It’s understood that totalis and universalis are forms of an autoimmune disorder which causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles. They may originate from alopecia areata and slowly develop to totalis or universalis, or they might come on suddenly and hair may rapidly be lost over a period of days or weeks.
Hair loss can be embarrassing at best, but to lose your hair so abruptly and without warning can be shocking and frightening. Unlike most types of hair loss, totalis and universalis sufferers don’t have time to register what’s going on and with no other physical symptoms, it can be downright confusing.
According to statistics, about 1 in every 125,000 men and 1 in every 250,000 women have alopecia totalis or universalis. Most sufferers are children and young adults under the age of 40, though it can affect people of all ages.
It’s not that the sufferers’ hair follicles can’t grow hair, it’s that for some unknown reason they choose not to. Sometimes the hair can grow back on its own but recovery rates are lower than that of alopecia areata. In most cases, the chances of recovery are small but there have been some cases of complete restoration as well.
There are ways to treat alopecia areata, although nothing is completely guaranteed work. However, as far as the more advanced forms of alopecia like totalis and universalis are concerned, no treatments have proved effective. There are companies around which claim to be able to be able to treat totalis and universalis, but a high degree of scepticism is cautioned. If they truly worked, the whole world would know about them. Just don’t get your hopes up.
Wigs and permanent makeup can be a good option for people with totalis and universalis. Wigs have been used by chemotherapy patients for years but these days, celebrities and everyday people wear them to change their look. They can be made to measure, cut, thinned and styled to suit you. Permanent makeup is also used by the millions but it can give renewed confidence to those with alopecia totalis or universalis. It’s a smear-free, time-saving means to regain structure, depth and expression and even just a little lash enhancement can define the eyes.
There are support groups, hair loss charities and communities dedicated to those dealing with alopecia totalis and universalis. Sometimes sharing your story and getting things off your chest can be an overwhelming relief. Other times, hearing someone else’s trials and triumphs are motivation to keep living life to the full. It can be hard to believe at first, but there is life after hair and there is always someone willing to lend an ear or shoulder during your pains, struggles and triumphs.
For more information, contact the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 or send an email.
Princess Charlotte Alopecia Foundation
Women’s Hair Loss Project
Bald Girls Do Lunch
Locks of Love
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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