People with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which is commonly associated with sudden, patchy hair loss, are being offered a free psychological self-help intervention to see if can boost their confidence.
Researchers at Sheffield University’s Department of Psychology are currently recruiting people who are aged 18 and over and identify themselves as having a visible skin difference (including Alopecia Areata) and a fear of negative valuation from others.
People with Alopecia Areata frequently find that their thinning hair leads to a dent in their confidence, and common issues include the feeling that strangers can’t stop looking at them (often wondering if they have cancer) and that their whole identity has been changed. Participants in the Sheffield trial will be emailed a PDF that is designed to help build confidence in social situations.
In an online appeal asking for people to take part, the researchers state that: “Your responses will be used to see whether the intervention was helpful. The results will be written up as part of the lead researcher’s thesis for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Sheffield and we will seek to disseminate the findings through publication in academic journals.”
This request follows a similar one from the University of Oxford which has also been looking for young people to talk candidly about their experiences of autoimmune hair loss as part of an advisory project. The feedback is used on self-help websites called healthtalk.org and youthhealthtalk.org in order to give readers the chance to find out more about what it's like to experience Alopecia Areata from people who have gone through it, or are still affected by it now.
At Belgravia Alopecia Areata treatment for the scalp-only patchy hair loss mild version begins with a full diagnosis and a conversation about the client’s lifestyle, as the condition has multiple suspected ‘triggers’ which it would naturally be beneficial to eliminate or reduce when possible.
These include psychological long-term chronic stress, shock and sudden extreme stress, physical trauma, hormones and allergies. Following this a fully rounded treatment course based around high strength minoxidil from the recommended formulations available at Belgravia's in-clinic pharmacies, is prescribed.
While treatment can be very effective when Alopecia Areata is not too severe, more extreme forms of the condition are notoriously difficult to treat, with sister conditions Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis rarely responding to current hospital-based treatment options.
Because of this, and thanks in part to some major “accidental” breakthroughs which show certain JAK inhibitor drugs to be effective at growing hair, new trials are taking place at several centres around the world that could open up new treatment options for those with more extreme forms of the condition.
Unfortunately, these drugs were originally developed to treat certain cancers and as they are somewhat powerful, the side effects that come with some of them leave a question mark over whether or not they will be approved for use on people with Alopecia Areata.
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