Some of you may
have noticed that alopecia has featured a lot in the media recently due to MP
Nadine Dorries speaking out about her own experience with hairloss. As a result of this an Alopecia UK forum
support user, Elaine Bruce, arranged a meeting with her Mid-Bedfordshire MP
(Nadine) in order to discuss some of her comments made in both television and
newspaper interviews. Alopecia UK
Trustee, Helen Wallwork, also attended the meeting.
There were some
keys things to be addressed in the meeting, namely Nadine’s comments regarding
women over fifty years of age going out bald, her comments on there being no
support available for people with alopecia, and also her comments on
treatments. Nadine has spoken about a
treatment she has started to use which may have led to some confusion for
people with various types of alopecia as it has not been made clear what this
treatment is, its effectiveness, its availability, or who it is for as it has
been unclear what type of alopecia Nadine herself has.
herself and started by explaining how angry she felt about Nadine’s statement
that women over fifty were “not able to rock the bald look”. She also felt that an injustice had been
done to the organisations that are providing help and support for people
affected by all forms of alopecia, acknowledging amongst others, the work of
Alopecia UK. It was also felt that by naming a product in the way that she has
and claiming it to be a cure when the product in question is an unproven
treatment was inappropriate as it could give false hope.
Nadine responded by
saying that Elaine looks amazing. She
also stated that when speaking of support she meant there was no NHS support
for those with Alopecia. In relation to
her own hairloss she stated that she has both Alopecia Areata (AA) and Female
Pattern Baldness (FPB). She said she
had mentioned the treatment she is undertaking as a way to show that treatments
are available (apparently she has seen first-hand people who have had re-growth
using the treatment she is using and that she is seeing an improvement – but
she didn’t say to which areas AA or FPB).
As Nadine has
received many letters, emails and phone calls about Alopecia from both genders
and parents of children with Alopecia, all saying there is a lack of support,
Helen asked if in future she could please make it clear that there is support
and to give out the AUK website for people to contact us. Helen also raised the
point that peer support provided by those with Alopecia, for example through
the Alopecia UK support forum, was viewed by many as preferable to a health
professional with no first-hand knowledge of the condition as we know what it
feels like to live with this disease/condition.
Nadine wants to raise a parliamentary debate on the
treatments available for Alopecia and thinks that GP’s should be trying to
offer innovative solutions for hair loss rather than just referring patients
straight to Dermatologists i.e. they should be open to other treatments as this
may in the long run result in a good outcome for the patient at reduced cost to
the GP (time saved in consultations, referrals to Dermatologists and reduced
numbers being prescribed anti-depressants). Helen made clear that Alopecia UK would welcome anything Nadine could do
to raise awareness of Alopecia especially if it meant we could secure an
increased range of treatments currently available through the NHS as this can
differ depending on where you are in the country. The issue of the availability of both treatments and wigs being a
“Postcode lottery” at present was also raised by Elaine.
Nadine asked Helen
to contact her with links to the website and contact information
Alopecia UK would
like to make clear that the product that Nadine is currently using is called,
Dermaheal HL. Dermaheal is a range of
cosmeceutical products. The practice
who is providing this particular treatment to Nadine has the following
statement alongside this treatment,
“this treatment is
not a cure for hair loss and there are no guarantees that this will work”.
Alopecia UK only support treatments that have
clinical evidence as outlined by the British Association of Dermatologists.