(Text only clips) Becky has had alopecia areata since age 14, with three periods of time when she had multiple bald patches. She uses a topical steroid solution, although thinks that being emotionally settled helps her hair regrow too. The impact on hair styling, including for horse riding, is a key concern for Becky.
Becky has had alopecia areata since she was 14, with three more extensive periods of multiple patches. She remembers hearing the word alopecia’ and immediately being frightened about going fully bald. A GP referred her to a dermatologist who gave her a topical steroid treatment for her scalp and, with time, Becky’s hair regrew. However, she’s since had a second and third episode of alopecia. She thinks that her alopecia is caused by stress: it’s like it’s my body’s way of showing that I am stressed or I am down about something. Her current alopecia patch has been there for about 8 months; she thinks that this is because she experienced a long period of uncertainty about getting a job. Becky says it can be a vicious circle whereby having one patch of alopecia leads to worry which then triggers more patches to develop. She finds that her hair regrows quickly but unevenly and tends to come back like really fine baby hair. Becky’s alopecia has only ever affected her head, mostly on her scalp around her ears and neck, but she also had one small patch in an eyebrow.
At Becky’s first appointment with her GP, she was given a referral to a dermatologist. Waiting for the appointment felt like absolutely ages because her hair loss was causing a lot of distress. Becky and her mum had discussed the pros and cons of likely treatments, preferring topical steroids rather than tablets or injections. The dermatologist also took a sample of her skin as the area where the hair had fallen out was sore and itchy with raised bumps, though the skin of her bald patches has not been like this since age 19. Becky visits her GP to get a repeat prescription of the topical steroid solution whenever her alopecia returns. She likes that the steroid solution gives her more choice about where exactly to apply it and how often to use it. Becky isn’t fully convinced that the steroid solution causes hair regrowth as she thinks it’s more to do with feeling settled emotionally. However, she continues to use the treatment in case it does help. One downside, though, is that the steroid solution makes her hair very greasy. In addition to trying home remedies like putting oats and honey on her scalp, Becky has tried lots of shop-bought shampoos and vitamin supplements, estimating that she’s spent ¬¨¬®¬¨¬£1,000 on these during the time she’s had alopecia.
Becky says that having alopecia areata doesn’t affect her confidence much now but it can make her feel a bit uncomfortable and worried when out socialising. She often finds herself comparing her hair to that of other women or panicking that people might have seen her bald patches. Becky says that she has only a very occasional blow out of being upset. Her friends are supportive and, for example, make sure that Becky is happy with any photos they take. Becky opts for hairstyles which cover her alopecia patches but finds these very limiting. She’s heard comments from some people suggesting that styling her hair too much could cause hair loss. Although she disagrees that this is the case for her alopecia, she says it gets ingrained in your head then, so you don’t want to pull it too much. Occasionally, Becky says she gets to a point of being fed up and so she’ll have her hair cut or dyed. Horse riding is a key hobby of Becky’s and means that she has to put her hair up a lot. She doesn’t like pulling it back and finds that she needs a lot of hairspray to pin down shorter hairs regrowing at different rates. Things like clearing out her hairbrush and bath plughole have become very normal parts of Becky’s routine, as they can quickly fill up with her loose hair.
Becky’s advice to other young people with alopecia is don’t let it get you down and to know that most people aren’t as concerned about it as you might think. She encourages others with alopecia to talk to the people around them about how they can help. For example, Becky says there are lots of examples of things that people should avoid saying to someone with alopecia, such as my hair falls out in the shower as well. Whilst some comments may be well-intentioned, Becky adds that they can feel dismissive and shatter confidence. Becky has looked online to see about new information each time her alopecia has returned. She has found some blogs which make her feel less alone, as she doesn’t know anyone in her day-to-day life with the condition.