September has been flying by for us. From returning from our vacations and welcoming our intern to proudly showcasing our crowns at London Fashion Week, it's easy to lose track of an important event this month: Alopecia Awareness Month! To be perfectly candid, I had never heard of alopecia until last year. It's one of those conditions that often goes unnoticed until it touches someone close to you. For me, it wasn't until I met Queens who are battling this autoimmune disease that I truly understood its significance.
Alopecia is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that affects the follicles, resulting in partial or complete hair loss. In ordinary language, it’s when your immune system is confused and treats your hair like it’s not a part of you: as long as you are hairless your immune system is hard at work thinking it’s doing a great job. Alopecia UK counts 7 types of alopecia that are caused by different factors such as childbirth, lupus, severe emotional stress or medical treatment such as chemotherapy.
Alopecia UK defines the different types of alopecia as follows:
* alopecia areata - an autoimmune disorder in which T-cell white blood cells attack hair follicles as if they were a foreign body, causing hair to stop growing and then to fall out. Hair loss initially appears as a small rounded patch and may be temporary or permanent
* alopecia totalis - complete loss of hair on the scalp
* alopecia universalis - complete loss of hair on the body
* alopecia barbae - loss of facial hair (in a man), especially in the beard area
* androgenic alopecia - thinning of hair to an almost transparent state, considered hereditary and possibly seen in at least 70% of adult males
* traction alopecia - results from excessive pulling on the hair shafts, which can occur when styling hair in braids, cornrows or ponytails. Eventually, new follicles stop growing, leading to permanent hair loss.
* cicatricial alopecia - leaves scars in the area of hair loss
* telogen effluvium - higher than normal amounts of hair fall out. It is temporary and hair growth usually recovers. Some people experience it after a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one
* trichotillomania - continuous pulling or picking of hair. Treatment involves psychiatric counseling or support.
Alopecia UK CEO Sue Schilling says:
September is an opportunity to show that many in our community live well with alopecia. I believe that people should be able to live the life they want to with alopecia free of stigma and discrimination. Wigs, toppers, root sprays, patchy heads, receding hairlines, shaved heads, half eyebrows, eyebrow transfers, patchy beards, permanent make up, tattoos…hair…or no hair. All can be celebrated because being visibly different to your neighbour should not impact your life. This is why Alopecia UK continue to advocate for living well, and you will see many positive stories this month.
The global prevalence rate of alopecia is nearly 1.7-2%, and according to statistical analysis, over 147 million people globally are suffering from or are likely to develop alopecia at some point in their lives. Alopecia can be scarring and non-scarring and has been associated with a severe negative impact on body image, self-esteem, and mental health among affected individuals.
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.
Malka London made its mission to do its bit to help women gain back their self-confidence in such dramatic times. The brand has participated in several events of the charities, which had even devoted interviews about their Crowns in their annual magazines.
The term Crown emphasizes that every woman is a Queen, whatever her state of health, the state of her hair, or her ethnicity, … every woman wears it with particular elegance.