A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has found that it’s not just children with Alopecia Areata who are emotionally affected by the condition; their parents or guardians can also experience negative effects to their quality of life.
This latest research backs previous 2018 findings which led for a call for more psychodermatology counselling to be made available to children and their caregivers following an Alopecia Areata diagnosis, regardless of its severity.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease which has three main phenotypes; Alopecia Areata (the phenotype, though also – somewhat confusingly – the overarching name for the condition in all its iterations) causes patchy hair loss of the scalp only, whilst Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis lead to total baldness of the head and from head-to-toe, respectively.
In many cases, where the condition affects the scalp only, natural hair regrowth will occur within 12 months. However, this is not always the case and whether or not it may happen is impossible to predict. Furthermore, even if the hair regrows, Alopecia Areata relapses may present in the future.
Effect of Alopecia Areata on care-givers
As sudden hair loss is symptomatic in all cases, this – in addition to the uncertainty element – can make the condition particularly hard to deal with, both for those going through it and for those caring for them who can do little more than provide moral support.
Researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, carried out a prospective, cross-sectional study to ascertain any potential relationship between care-givers’ quality of life (QoL) and the child’s age, severity of Alopecia Areata and its duration.
Of 153 paediatric patients studied, significant ‘mild-to-moderate’ links were found between the parents’ quality of life and how extensive their child’s hair loss was, based on scores using the Severity of Alopecia Tool (SALT). Whilst there were also negative correlations seen between parents’ QoL and the age of the child, the duration of the condition did not appear to have any impact.
The study authors conclude, “Impaired parent QoL might be associated with increasing severity of disease and age of affected child but not duration of disease. Providers should tailor counselling accordingly and help parents set realistic expectations for long-term experience with the disease.”
Sources of support
Alopecia Areata treatment is possible for the scalp-only phenotype, though generally only for those aged 16 and over. For children and young adults in the UK wishing to try wigs due to medical hair loss, these are available free of charge from charities the Little Princess Trust and Hero by LPT.
Any parents of children with Alopecia Areata can speak to their GP or dermatologist for advice on coping and how best to support them, as well as how to look after their own mental health. Hair loss charities such as Alopecia UK are also an invaluable source of peer support which can help those affected, either directly or indirectly, feel less alone.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies 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 Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.