What You Need to Know About Alopecia

By Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines Alopecia Areata as a disease when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. While hair patches form on any part of the body, alopecia areata usually affects the head and face. The impact of alopecia areata is not only the physical of losing hair but often the emotional and mental impact of feeling a loss. This condition can significantly impact women of color, especially when our hair is a massive conversation in our identity and beauty.

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease, which means the body mistakenly starts attacking itself, and in this case, it is attacking the hair follicles. This condition impacts men and women equally across racial and ethnic groups. The progression of it typically starts with the sudden loss of round and oval patches that start forming on the scalp. The patches can either produce white or gray hair within the next few months or, in rare cases, no hair forms, which is Alopecia Universalis.

The Three Types of Alopecia are as follows:

  • Patchy Alopecia Areata. In this type, which is the most common, hair loss happens in one or more coin-sized patches on the scalp or other body parts.
  • Alopecia Totalis. People with this type lose all or nearly all of the hair on their scalp.
  • Alopecia Universalis. (Rare), complete or almost complete loss of hair on the scalp, face, and rest of the body.

Alopecia can also arise as an impact of specific illnesses such as Cancer. Because of this, researchers believe that the onset of alopecia is both genetic and environmental.

Experiencing alopecia later in life can pose challenges when we have already lived with the way we look with our hair. Now, going through both the physical and emotional process of letting go of something part of our lives.

Below we have some tips to help with the navigation of living with alopecia:

  1. If you have alopecia, use sunscreen on your head and face or put SPF products into your regimen.
  2. Wear sunglasses if your alopecia impacts your eyelashes and eyebrows.
  3. Seek professional mental health counseling. Moments of depression and anxiety might arise, and seeking a professional could be beneficial.
  4. Find a provider who can understand both the physical and psychological impact! Find a provider at the HUED directory.
  5. Start experimenting with colors, wigs, and accessories! You are beautiful, and this is a moment to find new forms of self-expression.
  6. Remember, you are beautiful.

Suddenly being diagnosed with alopecia can be a journey, but we want you to know you are worthy of proper care and experience self-expression.

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.