My name is Vicki. I am 34 years old and I live in Brighton. I have alopecia areata.
It was first noticed when I took a trip to my hairdresser, who is a good friend of mine, in October 2015. I felt embarrassed to have a bald patch and felt like a bit of a failure. I also worried what was I going to tell people or how was I going to cover it up.
The morning after that first bald patch was spotted, I took a trip to see my GP and was diagnosed with alopecia areata. Although the patch was reasonably small, about the size of a 50p, to me it was the biggest thing ever. My GP was great although he said there was nothing they could do for it. He advised that in most cases the hair grows back and hopefully this would be the case for me. He explained it could take anything up to a year and the hair that does grow back might be white.
I was prescribed a Dermovate cream to apply to the patch which I did, but over the next few months it tripled in size and gradually started to expand from the back of my head up towards the top of my scalp. In April this year I noticed another patch at the base of my hair line and this doubled in size in just a couple of weeks.
The biggest struggle for me has been the fear that I will lose all my hair. I worried that people would look at me differently if I lost all my hair or make comments behind my back.
I am lucky to have an incredible man in my life and a wonderful family and bunch of friends who have supported me every day since I was diagnosed. When I need a shoulder to cry on, there is always someone around to listen. This has been a big help as this has been one of the hardest things I’ve been through.
I am pleased to say that the patches currently appear to be growing back, although it’s very fine regrowth at the moment. No further patches have developed in the past couple of months.
Unfortunately I experienced a very hurtful thing a few weeks ago. I had just got off the bus near home and the wind was blowing behind me, which must have caused my hair to move showing the patches of hair loss. To my horror, two women walking directly behind me started laughing and saying ‘Ewww, that’s nasty. Can you see she’s lost hair? I wonder what’s wrong with her. Perhaps she doesn’t she even know her hair is missing?’ I didn’t expect that adults would comment on my hair loss in such an insensitive manner. I might have expected to hear such things from children but I thought adult women would have understood. This totally knocked my confidence but after some tears and a conversation with my partner, I decided I shouldn’t let people like this set me back.
My advice to anyone struggling is to remember that they’re not alone. You’re definitely not the only person with alopecia (although it can feel that way when you see that first bald patch) and there is plenty of help and advice out there.