September is Alopecia Awareness Month. Now to most people, it doesn’t mean anything. But to anyone effected by Alopecia, September is ours. It is a month of empowerment and freedom. We are able to see how many people are actually living with this, and not feel so alone. Those of us who are able to speak about our struggles use this month as a chance to spread the word about what Alopecia is, celebrate ourselves and end the stigma that comes with being different. Even though not everyone is affected by Alopecia, everyone should know about Alopecia Awareness Month.
Alopecia, for those who don’t know, is an autoimmune hairloss disease. There are a few different typesof Alopecia. Alopecia areata is the most common, which causes patches of hair loss on the head or face. Alopecia areata is estimated to account for 70 percent of all Alopecia cases. Alopecia totalis causes complete hair loss just on the head and face. Alopecia Universalis is rarer and causes complete loss of all hair on the body. With these three types, the hair still has the chance to regrow, because the follicles are still in place. Cicatricial Alopecia, the rarest form of Alopecia, causes permanent hair loss due to the hair follicles being destroyed.
Everyone of every age, race, and gender can have Alopecia. This means children are affected; and unfortunately, its not rare. Its actually common for Alopecia to onset in childhood. Since there is no cure, Alopecia is a lifelong disease. Though it isn’t usually a disease that physically hurts, emotional and psychological pain is present. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are common in people with Alopecia, as losing hair is a life-altering event. Loss of the hair often affects a persons sense of identity. This can even result in social phobia, or fear of being in public. Some people even display identity crisis, as their appearance seems so drastically changed, they no longer recognize themselves. This obviously isn’t the case with everyone, as we all cope differently, but most patients go through some sort of grieving process. This disease takes a toll on a person not only physically, but mentally as well.
The cause is unknown. Traumatic events, hormone change, or high stress levels are often triggers for the onset, however this isn’t always the case. No cures exist today. Treatments are present, however, success rates aren’t high. These treatments are usually painful or tedious, and often the hair falls out again in time anyway. This means that many people are living with hair loss and need support. This is the reason for Alopecia Awareness Month.
People with Alopecia (we often call ourselves ‘Alopecians’) often use this as a chance to come out about their disease. We support each other and encourage each other to be confident however we chose to be. Some people with Alopecia choose to wear wigs. Wigs can be a blessing, but some feel it holds them back. They can be expensive and there are many activities that can’t be done in them. Some people choose to go with hats or no coverings at all. No matter what we choose to go with, we are proud to support each others confidence. This diagnosis is hard to come to terms with, and finding a way to not feel “different” is important.
This means we must end the stigma surrounding being “different” or in our case, “bald.” Being bald isn’t the norm in our society. In fact, it is usually associated with illness. If more people knew about the different reasons people can be bald, have hair loss, or wear wigs, this wouldn’t be the case. Though one of the defining aspects of femininity seems to be hair, we can end the stigma. Bald is just as beautiful. Wigs are just as beautiful. Being bald shouldn’t come with negative connotations; it’s just another hairstyle choice. Support rather than stigmatize. Spread the word, celebrate strength and confidence, and end the stigma. Happy Alopecia Awareness Month.
via – OD
Top Photo Credit Raquel Emeka
Body Photo Credit Nakia T Hamilton (Redd)