Alopecia Areata is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp. There is no cure found and this disease affects almost two percent of the population, both males and females. AA occurs in people who are apparently healthy and have no skin disorder. We talk to Nuria Hijano, a Spanish girl who has lost all her hair. After struggling for more than 3 years she has eventually accepted herself as a bald girl and has decided to open a blog to create a place for people who are suffering the same problem as her.
I am 27 years old and I have had Alopecia Areata for almost three years. Nowadays I have Alopecia Totalis (which affects the scalp) but it is progressing to Alopecia Universal (completely hair lost). Within the last months I have already lost the hair on my legs and arms.
This all started with the western most well known problem: stress. This stress transformed itself into a bald spot, which got bigger and bigger especially when showering. I was loosing too much hair. How could I not get stressed in this situation? It is a vicious circle.
I remember perfectly the first time I went to the doctor because I had this big bald spot. On this day I got injected with cortisone on my scalp. The doctor promised that these injections work for almost everyone, he also explained that they are very painful, and I promise they were.
I should take five more injections to see some results. If this is what the doctor says… this is what I should to do, right? This is exactly what I thought. But soon I discover that cortisone injected can produce cataracts and may leave scars on your scalp.
Anyway, this cortisone didn’t do well for me so I decided to shave my hair. Well, my adored friend Guillermo did it for me… I will never forget that day, I cried like a baby and when I looked in the mirror I wished it was just a nightmare.
At this moment I was living and working in Dublin, in an Industrial Design studio. You can’t imagine how ashamed I was when I went to work totally shaved and with some horrible hair spots…
When my contract ended I went back to Spain and I went to visit the doctor again. This time I got straight away 60 mg cortisone per day in pills, Lorazepan to sleep, one in the morning and another before sleep, and of course, antidepressants.
I slept for the first month, the whole day in bed doing nothing. But two months later as my hair started to re-grow I began to cheer up, I was myself again, I could even laugh. With my hair back I decided to get rid of everything: no more antidepressants, no more pills to sleep, not even cortisone. I was happy.
The thing is that when I quit them all I was once again completely bald and of course I cried again. So there I was. Back to the doctor and back to cortisone, which again allowed me grow back my beautiful hair. But this time there was something new. Side effects: too much hair on my face, blurry sight, swollen face, dramatic loss of weight, tiredness, muscular and joints pain, spots and infections.
As I consider myself a rational person, I eventually admitted that I was going to be bald for all my life. Those treatments don’t fix the root problem; they just cover it for a while. So this time for sure, I didn’t need cortisone, antidepressants or anything else. Although the question is… did I need them before?
The only thing that remained was facing the problem. Ok it was there, but I knew this time I could deal with it. With all my strength back and absolutely bald I decided that this disease was not going to stop me. Apart from baldy I am also a traveler. I went to Australia, Thailand, India (where I met my boyfriend), back to Spain, Germany, Ireland and now I’m traveling and living in New Zealand where I am waiting to get my new wig.
To be honest I’m not really into wigs, the thing is that its hard to find a job if you are bald. No one is going to hire a person who’s sick in their mind. You cannot imagine how many people assume that I have cancer. Some people even come to wish me the best of luck with this difficult moment I’m struggling with. We all live in a shallow and stupid society, so I just assumed that there are things I need to do to conform, like wearing shallow wigs when I’m job seeking.
But I normally don’t wear anything on my head, apart from handkerchief or turbans that I learnt to roll properly in Rajasthan (India).
I can say that eventually I learnt to accept myself. I know who I am now and I can proudly say that AA has helped to form this new person. This disease has made me stronger, has improved my self-confidence, has made me discover one of my passions; climbing and the most important thing; see people for who they are and not for how they look like.
But as a human being I am I still have some weak moments. Last week I woke up and realized that my eyebrow is getting less and less and I’m living the same story again… I look at myself in the mirror all the time to check if I’ve lost hair, or check the sheets to make sure that are free of hair. I asked to my boyfriend if he will love me without eyebrows or eyelash in the same way he does nowadays.
I’m going to be honest, just for few seconds I thought that if I lose my eyebrows completely I will take cortisone again. But no way, this morning I woke up and realized that the only thing I am afraid of is not accept myself. Of course I will and when I accept it, everyone will.