Coping with Alopecia Areata and the Inevitable Questions
Alopecia areata areata is a condition where you lose your hair, either in patches or all over. Generally, this disease causes hair loss on the scalp in both sexes and the beard area in men. Your own immune system is the cause. It launches war on the area where hair growth begins — in the follicles. Since society places so much value on appearance, it isn’t surprising that those afflicted must cope with the psychological effects of hair loss.
You may have bald patches, or your hair may break off into short stubby patches. A few individuals may go completely bald and lose all body hair. Regrowth of the hair is often sporadic and occurs at different places. The hair usually grows back in a few months, but it can take much longer. Styling your hair to cover the bald patches can be quite frustrating. Even if you are successful, a blustery wind or even the draft from a ceiling fan can ruin your look in seconds. Realistic-looking wigs can be expensive and may require frequent adjustments during the day.
Factors Affecting Regrowth
Unfortunately, about 10 percent of the patients who have this autoimmune disease never regrow their hair. Factors that increase this risk include:
- A family medical history of alopecia areata
- An onset before puberty or a bout longer than a year as a youth
- Suffering from another autoimmune disease
- Having many allergies
- Substantial hair loss during your first episode
- Thick, discolored or unusually shaped nails
Coping With Questions
You need to react appropriately, and this varies with the situation. For instance, if your boss inquires, answer with respect. Management may be concerned that you have an illness that may affect your productivity.
If strangers ask, feel free to say, “That’s none of your business.” After all, if they are brazen enough to ask, you can be bold enough to reply in the same fashion. Some people seem to possess little tact, particularly when curiosity tempts them to ask about your bald patches.
If children ask, realize that this is innate curiosity, and they can’t comprehend personal boundaries at this young age. Answer with something silly like “Well, I didn’t eat enough green vegetables when I was your age!” Or you can say, “It’s a disease that affects some people, but it isn’t painful and you can’t catch it from me.”
Remember, you can live a perfectly healthy and productive life with this disease. Although alopecia requires some careful planning to avoid embarrassment, anyone who dismisses you because of this disease is not worthy of sharing your life.
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