A former model and TV star is hoping to return to the limelight by winning a competition in which he would have a national stage to talk about how he has been affected by Alopecia Areata, the autoimmune disorder that causes patchy hair loss
Thomas O’Toole once modelled for the likes of Limitless Clothing and also featured in popular British TV shows Shameless, Hollyoaks and Fresh Meat, but is perhaps better known to locals in the Rawtenstall and Haslingden area of Lancashire as a local bar owner. The Lancashire Telegraph, in fact, describes O’Toole as having been one of the UK’s youngest ever landlords, who took the helm of his first drinking establishment when he was just 20.
Soon, however, the northerner - pictured here - may be famous not just in Lancashire but beyond, because he has set his sights on becoming the next 'Mr England'.
O’Toole says that he lost all of his confidence when his hair started to fall out, and that his change in appearance prompted him to start wearing a cap whenever he left the house. His feelings about losing his hair only changed, says the Lancashire Telegraph, when he joined a Facebook support group which encouraged him to open up about having Alopecia Areata. Encouraged, he decided to return to modelling in order to enter Mr England. “I want to show people you can come back from this,
” he said. “It’s more to raise awareness why I’m entering. I want to show people you can still go out and do whatever you want after having alopecia
Alopecia Areata can strike at any age
O’Toole first started losing hair to Alopecia Areata
in August 2016 when he was 24, proving that the condition can strike anyone at any age, without warning. He told his local newspaper that “For me, hair was a huge part of my appearance and confidence. To lose my hair was a big deal, like many men out there
Alopecia Areata is a very different condition to Male Pattern Baldness
, which is something that affects many more men. The latter is a treatable genetic condition which causes gradually thinning hair
around the top of the scalp and hairline only. Conversely, Alopecia Areata, whilst thought to have a genetic component, causes sudden hair fall from anywhere on the scalp that leaves behind rounded bald patches that can range in size. This is generally triggered when one of several things happens, including adverse reactions to certain drugs and medications, extreme stress
, shock or trauma. This is also true of AA's more severe sister conditions, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis
, which cause total hair loss from the head or head and body, respectively.
Whilst the mechanisms of genetic hair loss are well known, Alopecia Areata remains something of an enigmatic condition, widely believed to be an autoimmune disorder, and, although a range of its triggers are known, the actual base cause remains a mystery. Despite this, in its mild to moderate form, Belgravia specialists have found that using high strength minoxidil
, a vasodilator drug that is applied directly to the bald patches on the scalp, can help regrow hair as part of a comprehensive Alopecia Areata treatment
course. Presently the more extreme versions of AA cannot yet be treated effectively, though research in this area is proving to be highly promising
Actors with Alopecia
Several other actors
with autoimmune hair loss caused by one of the various forms of Alopecia Areata have embraced the change in their appearance that the disorder has caused. Among them are Little Britain star Matt Lucas
, who first started shedding hair when he was just six, and Gotham’s Anthony Carrigan
, who plays Victor Zsasz in the hit TV series.
Carrigan, whose hair first started falling out when he was a child, has spoken openly about how he tried to conceal his shedding during some of his first big acting gigs when he was in his early 20s. Eventually, however, he says that he got to the point where he didn’t care any more. “I just wanted to feel OK with the way that I looked, so shaved my head,
” he says. Almost overnight, job offers started rolling in.
Thomas O’Toole is still in the running for Mr England and, in order to progress to the next round, the 25-year-old needs to amass the most likes on the Mr England Facebook page
. At the time of writing, he was the second highest scorer with over 1,600 votes.
UPDATE: On 31st March 2017 it was announced that Thomas had made the finals for the Mr England contest. However, he was beaten to the crown in the July ceremony by Team GB Paralympian Jack Eyers, the first Amputee to win the title.