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New Play Inspired by Lupus Patients Explores The Hair Loss Causing Disease


lupus hair lossA hospital worker has turned playwright to create a new play that tells the story of a teenage girl suffering from Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own immune system, which can lead to a wide variety of serious symptoms.

The play, which stars Garry Lineker’s wife Danielle Bux, who has previously spoken out about hair loss (from another auto-immune condition called alopecia areata, where sudden patchy hair loss occurs on the scalp) is Melanie Spencer’s first foray into writing drama for the stage.

A New Talent…

Spencer, 27, worked at St Thomas’s Hospital in Central London, in the Louise Coote Lupus Unit, before becoming a full time theatre director. Spencer said: “I wanted my first play to be meaningful and educational and knew lupus was the perfect topic to address because it’s so unknown.” The director and writer worked closely with both patients and staff at her previous workplace to ensure that her play was medically accurate.

Discussing her motivation, Spencer went on to explain: “Lupus always fascinated me because the symptoms are so complex and varied that it almost seemed fictional. I wanted to engage with the audience through my characters while at the same teaching them about the condition and raising awareness.”

A possible symptom of Lupus is hair loss on the scalp. Because ten women for every one man experience the condition, it tends to be women who seek out help with their hair loss on account of Lupus. The inflammation of multiple organs is also a symptom of the condition and frustratingly, the cause is still unknown.

…And A Rare Disease

Unlike alopecia areata, where antibodies are found specific for components within the hair follicle, the characteristic finding in Lupus is the presence of antibodies to our basic genetic material, DNA, and other substances found within the nuclei of all cell types in the body. Hair loss from lupus usually appears as diffuse thinning that cannot generally be treated.

Whilst hair loss can wax and wane as the disease changes levels of severity, it can become permanent if the hair follicles scar. However, there may also be spontaneous remission in people with lupus, where hair loss that hasn’t scarred can potentially grow back. As we understand more about this rare chronic disease, it may be possible to develop a hair loss treatment for lupus, but as it stands the usual immuno-suppressants and in some cases hair transplants are the closest to a treatment there is.

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The Belgravia Centre—————————————————————————————————–

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