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FEATURES Oct 31 2012 10:53AM
1

Alopecia: What It Is And How To Manage It

By Sharlyn Pierre
 
 
I love being the guinea pig when it comes to beauty and wellness. While earning my degree, I worked at a spa for three and a half years and got almost every massage and treatment they offered. I got a close friend of mine a job there, and now the said friend is in beauty school. She offered to do my hair free of charge not too long ago, stating she needed the practice. Just so we’re clear?I will work for beauty services. At any rate, while putting the finishing touches on her own hairstyle, I noticed a tiny bald spot she was covering up in the center of her head. Not knowing if she was aware (who would miss that though), I carefully chose my wording, and asked her if she felt that bald spot. She casually said, “Girl, it’s my alopecia.” Her what? Her alopecia. Right then and there she gave me a brief explanation of it: “It’s when you develop small bald spots”  
 
How could her hair be falling out? I proceeded to pepper her with questions, like, how long has she been suffering from it and was she taking any medication? She said she’s had it only for a year or two and that she’s been applying a topical cream. “Like Rogaine?” Her response was, “Yes, it’s basically the same thing as male-pattern-baldness.” I needed to know more. I asked other friends and family, and my Mom divulged that she had a colleague who was also experiencing it. Afraid for my hair’s life, I did so more research and discovered…
 
Alopecia is a skin disease due to an abnormality in the immune system. The body misfires and begins attacking itself, more specifically, hair follicles and interrupts normal hair formation, resulting in hair loss. Genetics play a key role and if you have a relative who has been diagnosed with it, diabetes, lupus, or a thyroid condition, you are at risk of developing it.
 
Another factor: stress. True, it is inevitable, maybe your job is driving you nuts, or you’re concerned about a relationship, or family issues, whatever is driving you to feel like you want to run away kicking and screaming, finding ways to decompress it vital. Stress not only affects your mood, it affects your hair’s health. While there is no cure for alopecia, there are treatment options.
 
Cortisone injections are the most common remedy. They are usually given by your dermatologist and are injected at the site of the patches. They can be prescribed in pill form if the hair loss is extensive. Also topical ointments or creams are another method. They should be gently massaged into the scalp daily. Generally, it takes approximately four weeks to see growth. If strong meds are like luke warm tea to you, herbal and homeopathic remedies can stimulate growth and are a healthier approach.
 
In my friend’s case, alopecia was trigged by emotional distress; she had six patches at one time! Initially embarrassed, she used cover ups like turbans and scarves. She currently uses a combination of the aforementioned corrective measures, as well as protective styles to cope; especially wigs. She bounces in between 1-2 patches, but her hair is growing. Hair loss at any age is traumatizing. Like anything else in life, it’s best to start at the root.      

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