12 Things People Living With Alopecia Want You To Know
It's not just hair.
The word "alopecia" simply means hair loss.
And there are different types of alopecia.
For this post we spoke to people with alopecia areata to find out what it's really like living with their condition.
Matt Lucas / Via @RealMattLucas Twitter
First things first: What is alopecia areata?
It's not just a physical condition.
"It's not 'just hair' – it's easy to say, 'It's only hair, you can wear a wig, or wear scarves, and think of all the money you'll save on products,' but NO! I actually liked spending time on my hair." – Hannah Green
"Hair isn’t just hair. Losing my hair was traumatic, it completely changed how I looked and how I felt about myself." – Kate Harrison
"So many people have said to me, 'Oh, it's just hair,' but to me as a young woman it was so much more. At the age of 17 it's all about hair and makeup – it feels like your femininity has been taken away and it's almost as if you've lost your identity." – Lucie Cunningham
It can happen really quickly.
"I was 24 when I was diagnosed and it was quick. I found a bald patch at the back of my head, and within a couple of weeks I had more bald patches than hair. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be so out of control, but it was terrible. I cried about what had happened, what was happening, and what might happen. The doctors didn’t have answers for my questions and I didn’t know what was going on." – Kate Harrison
"At first I had a little patch in my chin, which I ignored. I had no idea what alopecia was at the time. That little patch started to grow and rapidly spread to my head. That was when I decided to go to the doctor." – David Oliveira
"My hairdresser noticed a small patch on the back of my head. Within four weeks nearly all my hair had fallen out." – Dave Utley
It's not a stress condition.
Alopecia areata is not inherited, but heredity plays a role.
Being a man with alopecia doesn't make it easier.
"Some people think, ‘It’s OK for a man to be bald.' I don’t entirely disagree with this, but I do feel that it wasn’t my choice to be bald and would rather have a full head of hair. I personally feel that it’s a lot easier for women to cover up with wigs, false lashes, and eyebrows etc. For a man to do this, it wouldn’t have quite the same effect." – Dave Utley
At the beginning alopecia affects every part of your day, but it gets better.
Having no hair doesn’t mean we have cancer.
"I'm not sure a lot of people even know what alopecia is. People see a bald person and automatically assume cancer. I've been asked so many times what stage of my treatment I'm at. Alopecia doesn't enter people's mind." – Hannah Green
"The biggest misconception is that baldness means cancer. There is nothing worse than getting pitiful looks because people have made assumptions." – Lucie Cunningham
"The greatest misconception I have found is that a lot of the time people automatically assume that if you don’t have any hair, you have cancer. I have had people stand up to offer me their seat. I let them know I’m fit and well and that I have alopecia." – Joelle Amery
You can be diagnosed at any age.
"I was diagnosed four years ago, when I was 22 years old." – David Oliveira
"I lost all of my hair when I was 8 years old. I remember watching my hair swirl down the plughole in shock, not knowing what was happening to me." – Joelle Amery
"I was about 30 – it started really quick." – David Utley
Shaving your hair is a way to gain control.
"It was horrible, one minute I had a head full of hair, the next, my mum was shaving of the straggly leftovers in a desperate bid for me to cling on to a little bit of control." – Kate Harrison
"Initially, when my hair was falling out in clumps, daily life was extremely traumatic and upsetting. I decided to take back control and shave the rest of my head when too much had come out to cover it. Then life became more bearable, as I didn't have to wake up to hair on my pillow or falling out in the shower. Now I still feel like I've lost a part of me and facing the mirror is still tough but it's definitely easier." – Hannah Green
You can lose hair EVERYWHERE!
"Once I had shaved my head and began to work on accepting that the hair wasn’t growing back any time soon, the hairs on the rest of my body slowly began to fall out. I had about accepted that the worst was over and then my eyelashes slowly disappeared. Everything that defined femininity had gone – I had no hair on my head, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. I felt hideous." – Kate Harrison
Making friends with other people who have alopecia really helps.
"Ever since becoming part of Alopecia UK, the organisation has helped me realise that there are so many people out there who have gone through some of the same experiences as me and it's an amazing feeling." – Joelle Amery
"The best support that I get is from my friends that I’ve made through Alopecia UK – they understand what it’s like to have alopecia. Being able to discuss something with people that have experienced the same thing will always be a great source of support for me." – Kate Harrison
If you choose to cover your head, wigs are great.
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