September is officially recognized as Alopecia Awareness Month, though anytime is a good time to support those living with alopecia. Healthcare professionals often fail to recognize the psychological impact of alopecia. This may be because the disease is not painful and those who experience it are generally healthy. There are few physically harmful consequences other than some skin irritation and problems resulting from loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. However, the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, which help define the face, can seriously affect a person's sense of identity.
What is alopecia?
We call alopecia a hair loss disorder caused by an interruption in the body's cycle of hair production. It can affect just the scalp or the entire body, and it can be temporary or permanent. There is a wide range of conditions that can bring on hair loss, with some of the most common being pregnancy, thyroid disorders, and anemia. Others include autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and skin conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
The impact of hair loss
The most significant effect of alopecia is a loss of self-confidence. Hair conveys messages about who we are, our culture, gender, age, politics, class, religion and more. Although hair loss can be troubling for both genders, many men choose to shave their heads and celebrate their baldness. However, female pattern baldness can involve very real difficulties; 40% of women with alopecia experience marital problems and 63% say they have career-related problems.
Wigs and hairpieces mask hair loss, but replace one set of anxieties with another, as they may not look realistic and the wearer is constantly vulnerable to exposure. A strong wind, a curious child, almost anything can dislodge the wig. Showering and using a changing room is difficult and activities such as swimming and gymnastics are out of the question. Dealing with hair loss, drastically changed appearance, anxiety and depression are hard enough to deal with, but pity, avoidance or disgust can make it even harder.
Female pattern baldness is considered unsightly and a breach of societal norms that has the potential to set people apart. Young people are particularly affected, often becoming self-aware and self-critical. Physical symptoms of anxiety such as blushing, palpitations, sweating and shaking may be experienced, and fear of humiliation when alopecia or use of wigs is noticed may lead to avoidance of intimacy and social situations.
What are the alternative to wigs?
Hair has a protective function, so it is important to give advice on how to protect the scalp from cold, heat, sun and mechanical irritation after hair loss. Shaving the head promotes even hair regrowth, and patients should be aware that if hair does regrow, it may have a different texture or color from its original hair. Most women want to look "normal" and nurse practitioners can advise them on concealing visible hair loss.
The crown is the perfect alternative to wig due to its lining in Duchess Satin that doesn't irritate the scalp thanks to its softness and lightness. It also ease the head during the hair regrowth stage. The particularity of the bonnet is its shape because it give a full effect and when you add the matching band, it looks like one piece. Finally, you will be able to create the style you desire while keeping your head warm.
Share you alopecia journey in our blog
You can either respond to our question about alopecia and fashion https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfxuWkl8hC65w38PFqW_UWL11-AuWthmhtpuQrb6g6ir0v3Fg/viewform?usp=sf_link
Or send us an email at email@example.com
We will share your story on our social media platforms and on our blog.
Source: Pat MacDonald, for Practice Nurse 2007.