Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Chronic Illness and Hair Loss















[Image Description: Photo 1: A picture of Amy with straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 2: A picture of the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 3: A picture of the bald patch on the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair]


For around 5 years, on and off, I have experienced patches of Alopecia Areata, aka hair loss.

Blood tests have shown different results, B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, Folate deficiency etc but even when my levels have gone back to normal (with the help of a course of tablets) I have still had the hair loss. The only thing doctors seem to have put it down to is stress.

Things have been particularly stressful recently (see my latest two posts) but I do try to take time to relax as much as I can.

It's only since I've had chronic illnesses that I have experienced hair loss, so I wonder whether this is connected. My immune system must be compromised and most of the illnesses I have are systemic; with symptoms affecting various parts of my body.

I'm quite vain about my hair. I enjoy getting it styled and coloured with bright dyes, but I also look after it well; washing every 2 or 3 days with shampoo and conditioner (the kinds that keep it very moisturised, but also keep the colour in), moisturising spray before using a detangling brush, then heat spray before styling. I make sure I have days where I let my hair dry naturally, without a hairdryer.

The first time I had Alopecia, the patch was small but right on the top of my head, so I had to style my hair a certain way to hide it. I felt mortified when someone noticed the patch! I struggle with my own identity (thanks, BPD), but I see my hair as part of it, so to lose it would be like losing a part of my identity! Since then, it has been happening on and off, every few months to a year.

As for treatment, most things don't do much but I've found that a prescribed product called Dermovate at least speeds up the hair growth. I won't say it'll definitely work for you, but if you experience patchy Alopecia, I recommend going to the doctor, having whatever blood tests they send you for, and asking if you could try Dermovate. It is a steroid treatment, and thins the skin so can only be used for a couple of weeks at a time, but compared to waiting for hair to grow back without treatment, this product has definitely sped up the hair growth for me. If you do try it, I hope so much that it works for you too.

Do you experience/ Have you experienced patchy hair loss (aka Alopecia Areata)? Have you found out the cause? Are there any other treatments you would recommend? Please comment below!

References

What is Alopecia Areata and How do I Treat it?: https://www.healthline.com/health/alopecia-areata

Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency Anemia: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/symptoms/

Vitamin D deficiency:  https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/vitamin-d-deficiency#1

What is Folic Acid deficiency Anemia?:  https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/folic-acid-deficiency-anemia

Dermovate Ointment:  https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/940/smpc

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