Many women are now aware of the hair shedding associated with pregnancy - a temporary condition known as Postpartum Alopecia
which occurs up to three months after giving birth. We would wager less are familiar with issues that - whilst mercifully rare - can cause hair loss
whilst they are pregnant, however.
As part of Alopecia Awareness Month
a teacher from Norfolk has chosen to speak out about losing her hair - including her eyelashes and eyebrows - following an ectopic pregnancy.
Teacher-turned- medical tattooist and micropigmentation
artist, Emma Holmes, spoke to Metro
about how she went bald within a week. Despite suffering damage to her reproductive organs as a teenager, following a burst appendix, she later fell pregnant in 2009.
It was quickly discovered that she had an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo forms outside the womb, and underwent keyhole surgery to remove one of her fallopian tubes, which caused her to lose the baby.
During this traumatic time Holmes, now 40, started experiencing significant and sudden hair loss, and her hair started falling out in clumps. This is a classic sign of the autoimmune disorder which presents as sudden, patchy hair fall, Alopecia Areata
which disrupts the hair growth cycle, often temporarily but also, sometimes, on an on-going basis.
Struggling to understand and accept this shocking development, the Yorkshire woman sought advice and information from doctors but - given the enigmatic nature of Alopecia Areata and the fact it's precise cause is still unknown - this proved fruitless.
"I never really got an answer
", Emma told Metro. "The doctors just said that it was probably to do with a sudden change in my hormone levels after they removed my fallopian tube. Knowing that didn’t make it any better though.
Hormones or stress may be responsible
Hormonal fluctuations are known to be able to cause or exacerbate hair loss in women
, though usually this presents as thinning hair rather than complete baldness.
Emma Holmes' hairloss appears to be a result of Alopecia Areata - as senior Belgravia hair specialist, Leonora Doclis
advises, "Based on her photographs published on news websites, it would appear she experienced diffuse Alopecia Areata - with patchy bald spots developing all over her scalp - to start, which then progressed to Alopecia Totalis. This is one of the most extreme phenotypes of Alopecia Areata, causing the scalp to become bald and often a loss of facial hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows, presenting simultaneously.
Alopecia Areata in all its forms
is an autoimmune disorder which can be triggered by a number of factors including sudden shock, trauma - physical or emotional, severe stress, allergies, hormones, and a genetic element is also suspected though unconfirmed.
Although the scalp-only form can benefit from topical Alopecia Areata treatment
, this cannot be used for the more severe forms. Nor can it be used during pregnancy or whilst nursing. There are a few Alopecia Totalis treatment
options, including steroid injections - something Holmes is currently trying - and immunotherapy, though they tend to have low success rates.
The next four years are thought to be extremely exciting with regards developments in this arena, however, as three pharmaceutical companies
each developing potential treatments for Alopecia Areata, Totalis and even the most severe iteration - Alopecia Universalis, which causes total baldness from head to toe, have now been awarded FDA fast track status. The anticipated release dates for these prescription medications is currently thought to be 2021/2022, and will mark the first clinically-proven drugs becoming available for the condition, providing viable options for people like Emma to regrow their hair.