by Tori

alopecia areata natural hair 4

Typ­i­cal­ly, when peo­ple hear the term Alope­cia the first things that come to mind are tight pony­tails, tight braids, miss­ing edges, etc. This is known as Trac­tion Alope­cia, a “small or local­ized hair loss area caused by repet­i­tive or per­sis­tent pulling or force on hair roots” (Cole, 2014).

Gen­er­al Infor­ma­tion

There are sev­er­al oth­er types of alope­cia that some­one can be diag­nosed with.  One type is known as Alope­cia Areata, a com­mon dis­ease that caus­es hair loss on the scalp or the rest of the body. The three types of Alope­cia Areata are: Alope­cia Areata (hair loss that occurs as var­i­ous smooth patch­es), Alope­cia Areata Total­is (total hair loss on the scalp), and Alope­cia Areata Uni­ver­sal­is (hair loss from the entire scalp and body). “In all forms of Alope­cia Areata, the hair fol­li­cles remain alive and are ready to resume nor­mal hair pro­duc­tion when­ev­er they receive the appro­pri­ate sig­nal. In all cas­es, hair regrowth may occur even with­out treat­ment and even after many years.” Alope­cia Areata is an autoim­mune dis­ease; the person’s own immune sys­tem mis­tak­en­ly attacks their hair fol­li­cles caus­ing a halt in the hair growth stage. It is not life threat­en­ing but occurs sud­den­ly, has an unpre­dictable course and can recur even after treat­ment, in any age, gen­der, or race. (About Alope­cia, 2014)

How I Was Diag­nosed

When I start­ed my hair jour­ney, all I want­ed was health­ier relaxed hair. So, I would ‘stretch’ my relax­ers to min­i­mize how often I relaxed each year. I was on a long-term stretch in 2011 (the goal was to go 6 months with­out a relax­er), when I noticed a small, smooth area on my scalp.

alopecia areata natural hair 2 I first thought that this was from the per­ma­nent part I had down the mid­dle of my head, or that was caused from the half-wig I occa­sion­al­ly wore as a pro­tec­tive style. I also won­dered if the spot was relat­ed to life’s stress­es. In about 2 weeks, the small area got pro­gres­sive­ly larg­er. I had stopped wear­ing the half-wig and was extreme­ly care­ful about how I styled and han­dled my hair, but that one small bald spot con­tin­ued to get big­ger and big­ger.

alopecia areata natural hair 3

Then, a week or so lat­er, I found two more spots on dif­fer­ent areas of my scalp. It was then that I knew some­thing wasn’t right and I decid­ed to go to the doc­tor.

alopecia areata natural hair 5
When I vis­it­ed the der­ma­tol­o­gist, he took a biop­sy of my scalp from one of the bald areas and the results showed that I had Alope­cia Areata.

Out­come

After ini­tial­ly find­ing out, I was dev­as­tat­ed. Accord­ing to every­thing I first read on the Inter­net, I thought the con­di­tion would pro­gress and I would lose all my hair. How­ev­er, I imme­di­ate­ly relied on my faith and thank­ful­ly, things did not get a whole lot worse. The spots I found got big­ger; how­ev­er, with the help of cor­ti­sone injec­tions to my scalp (in the bald areas), those areas start­ed re-grow­ing.

As of today, I haven’t found any oth­er bald spots. How­ev­er, I still wor­ry that they may re-occur. Because my hair is so thick, it is often hard to check every area of my scalp for oth­er pos­si­ble bald spots. Regard­less, I am thank­ful­ly that my expe­ri­ence was not worse and that I was able to get treat­ment to resolve the sit­u­a­tion. Anoth­er pos­i­tive out­come from my expe­ri­ence was that being diag­nosed was one of the con­tribut­ing fac­tors to me going nat­u­ral. Alope­cia Areata may not be relat­ed to hair relax­ers, but I want­ed to make sure that I wasn’t adding any out­side ele­ments that would increase hair loss or affect my scalp any fur­ther.

Hav­ing a form of Alope­cia Areata doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean you will lose all your hair. I’m liv­ing proof (Thank God).
Were you diag­nosed with Alope­cia Areata? What has your expe­ri­ence been like? Feel free to share your sto­ry if you feel com­fort­able.

About Tori: I’m Tori, a Jamaican-born nat­u­ral cur­rent­ly liv­ing in Tex­as. I was reunit­ed with my nat­u­ral tex­ture in Jan­u­ary 2012 when I big chopped, after tran­si­tion­ing for a year and a half. I am still learn­ing about my nat­u­ral hair, and hope to share the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ences I gain as I con­tin­ue on my nat­u­ral hair jour­ney. You can find me on Insta­gram @bonafidestyle.

Ref­er­ences:

About Alope­cia Areata | Types of Alope­cia Areata — Nation­al Alope­cia Areata

Foun­da­tion. (2014, Jan­u­ary 1). About Alope­cia Areata | Types of Alope­cia Areata — Nation­al Alope­cia Areata Foun­da­tion. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from http://www.naaf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_alopecia_types

Cole, G. W. (2014, Jan­u­ary 1). Hair Loss Symp­toms, Caus­es, Treat­ment — What is trac­tion alope­cia? –

Med­i­cineNet. Med­i­cineNet. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from

http://www.medicinenet.com/hair_loss/page3.htm

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27 Comments on "True Life: I Was Diagnosed With Alopecia Areata"

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Seraina Lewis
I was diag­nosed also, about 4 years ago. The first time I had 2 spots, and got them treat­ed with the cor­ti­zone injec­tions she men­tioned. A few years lat­er while on deploy­ment, I had about 5–6 dif­fer­ent spots in my head. I as unable to get the injec­tions then but the hair grew back on it’s own after some time. I am just hap­py they are not all local­ized in one spot so it’s not too notice­able. I am con­sid­er­ing going nat­u­ral ( pos­si­bly BC-ing) and one of my biggest fears is hav­ing anoth­er “out­break” and hav­ing a patchy head.… Read more »
NHCN

Met a hand­ful of nat­u­ral­is­tas with this issue too (http://www.naturalhaircarenews.com/2015/02/17/female-pattern-baldness-and-alopecia-the-411-for-naturals/). Alopecia’s kin­da hard to deal with but I always say just stick to nat­u­ral treat­ment.

Tammy

I ‘m deal­ing with this condition.…onion juice mixed jbco applied on bald spot around edges fill­ing in and thick­er.

Elena71
Thank you for this arti­cle! Just 2 weeks ago, my cowork­er noticed the bald spot in the mid­dle of my head (I have relaxed hair and usu­al­ly wear a wrap style). I imme­di­ate­ly thought it was the col­or, I hade high­lights done about 3 months ago. I had a pony­tail bun for a week and though the tight­ness pulled my hair. How­ev­er, next few days I notice the spot got big­ger and found 3 more spots on my scalp (anoth­er one in mid­dle and one at the crown). I went to der­ma­tol­o­gist and she diag­nosed me with Alope­cia Aretea, admin­is­ter… Read more »
Dee
I was diag­nosed with Alope­cia Areata a few years back while I was unknow­ing­ly tran­si­tion­ing (I had stopped per­ming my hair for sev­er­al months think­ing that it was the cause of my bald spots). I had two quar­ter sized bald spots on either side of my head behind my ears that were get­ting big­ger. I received the cor­ti­sone injec­tion and a spray from my doc­tor. My hair start­ed grow­ing back and then fell out again a few months lat­er. I used dif­fer­ent hair growth prod­ucts and stopped mess­ing with my hair all togeth­er, just wear­ing hats all the time and… Read more »
LA

And thank you every­one in your com­ments for shar­ing your brave sto­ries <3.

LA

Thank you so much for shar­ing your sto­ry!

Thetruthisoutthere
You’re in my prayers — all of you. I had sev­er­al bouts of alope­cia areata in 2009 when I was relaxed. It was a stress­ful time in my life. I began notic­ing more hair than usu­al in my comb; I gen­tly tugged areas over my scalp to locate the area of ‘break­age’, I freaked out when a lit­tle tuft came out! My hair grew back and fell out sev­er­al times after going to the der­ma­tol­o­gist for tri­am­ci­nolone injec­tions. He advised me to stop relax­ing, yeah the MD was a WM. I think the largest spot got about 2+ inch­es wide.… Read more »
Tanisha
I’m cur­rent­ly going through he same thing. I had a baby in May 2013. When I got preg­nant I found out I have lupus. I start­ed los­ing patch­es of hair after deliv­ery. I went to the der­ma­tol­o­gist because I had smooth patch­es with no hair in my scalp. I was pre­scribed nizo­ral sham­poo and a top­i­cal steroid. I still have not seen growth in one area. I was told that it might not grow back and that my body may have attacked my hair fol­li­cles which I why it’s miss­ing. I have to wear my hair off my face going… Read more »
cathya
Hi Tori, I empathize with you. I am not sure if what I have is alope­cia, but I have bald­ing edges and it doesn’t seem to improve even though I nev­er wear tight hair­styles nor braids or weaves. Over­all, I also have a pret­ty healthy lifestyle. My moth­er, also has bald­ing edges so that must be genet­ic. We are not quite sure what to do about it and as a stu­dent, I am not in a posi­tion to spend lots of mon­ey on der­ma­tol­o­gists or treat­ments that may not work.  It’s too bad that as wom­en (and espe­cial­ly black wom­en), we… Read more »
Napturally Kia

my hair balds in patch­es like that when i’m stress­ing out very bad­ly. after the stress is away, it starts to grow back.

NicDC-P
I was diag­nosed with alope­cia ear­ly fall last year. I first noticed a small patch around my fore­head area and then it got increas­ing­ly big­ger with­in a few weeks. Wear­ing my hair pulled back into a pony­tail was not an option any­more. The der­ma­tol­o­gist I went to treat­ed it as a fun­gus. He pre­scribed me sham­poo and cream that wrecked hav­oc on my hair. After a few weeks with no pro­gress I stopped the treat­ment and went for a sec­ond opin­ion. They biop­sied my scalp and then I was final­ly diag­nosed. I had the cor­ti­sone injec­tions for 5 months and… Read more »
Gary Sherwood, Communications Director for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation

You can learn more about alope­cia areata, the cur­rent state of research, how to find sup­port groups, and much more at the Nation­al Alope­cia Areata Foun­da­tion web­site http://www.naaf.org. You can also find us on Face­book or give us a call at 415–472-3780.

Kris
I have had alope­cia are­ta for near­ly 20 years now. As described in your arti­cle I have went through the treat­ment off and on for many years. The blessed part about my sit­u­a­tion I always had hair to cov­er my spots.  Since hav­ing my son 5 years ago my alope­cia are­ta is extreme­ly bad. I have left may­be a small mohawk. This is the 2nd time see­ing such mas­sive loss since hav­ing my child. The first time I received steroid shots and my hair grew back entire­ly. This go around I have been liv­ing with it only because I’m dis­cour­aged and… Read more »
Tracienatural
Hi, Kris: I have not had alope­cia as bad­ly as you, but I do have alope­cia as well (non-diag­nosed). Have you tried alter­ing your diet? I start­ed doing raw till 4 for about 2–3 months and I see improve­ment in the areas of my hair that were bald. If you’re inter­est­ed, you can look it up on the inter­net and youtube, but in a nut­shell, you would go on a veg­an diet (ital if you’re Jamaican/West Indi­an), but eat only raw foods (fruits, veg­gies, nuts, seeds, water) until din­ner­time, then have a cooked veg­an meal. Of course, if things are… Read more »
christina
My lit­tle sis­ter was sad­ly diag­nosed with this con­di­tion and is com­plete­ly bald. It is hard to watch her because her self con­fi­dence is gone and she is ashamed to even to wear wigs. She is only 12 so it is hard to find a wig that fits her pro­pre­ly. Just a few days ago some boy in her class pulled her wig off in front of every­obe . I pray her hair grows back but if it does not I tell her every­day that she is beau­ti­ful and it does not make a dif­fer­ence, but now it just bounces… Read more »
Olivia

Man, that stinks. Espe­cial­ly since she’s only 12.

Dananana
Not to be rude, but ignore the med­ical advice from the posters below. Putting Vagisil on your sister’s head might wors­en her con­di­tion if her skin is sen­si­tive or she’s suce­sptible to migraines, and tra­di­tion­al Chi­ne­se med­i­cine some­times has nasty stuff in it that isn’t safe for a child to ingest. Just being real. I know you said that you tell her that she’s beau­ti­ful and she ignores it.…but what about show­ing her that she’s beau­ti­ful? If you can, why not sched­ule a “girl’s day” where you both do all of her favorite things togeth­er. Point out her strengths and skills… Read more »
Dananana

and by below I mean *above.

Mercedes
Hel­lo! I’m so sor­ry to hear about your lit­tle sister’s con­di­tion. Most of the­se con­di­tions must be treat­ed from the inside out. If you live near a Chi­na­town, I would sug­gest you take your lit­tle sis­ter to one of the phar­ma­cies in there. The phar­ma­cist may give you a mix of herbs for her to drink. Chi­na has some of the best med­i­cine in the world. Also if you’re not close to a Chi­na­town, there is an African web­site that sells herbal med­i­cine. It is based in Ugan­da. The web­site is blackherbals.com. I was diag­nosed with a sim­i­lar con­di­tion and… Read more »
KurlyKam
I don’t want to offend any­one, how­ev­er I must say be extreme­ly cau­tious if you plan to con­sult “herbal reme­dies” from any part of the world, whether Chi­na, Africa or any­where else. Chi­na, among oth­er nations, has a well-known rep­u­ta­tion for ani­mal poach­ing in order to use the ani­mals parts for med­i­cine and cook­ing. This is ille­gal. Also, I would nev­er advise any­one to seek help from any­thing claim­ing to have ‘heal­ing qual­i­ties’. Steer well clear! Per­son­al­ly, I believe that heal­ing can only come from Jesus Christ. Seek­ing heal­ing from oth­er sources could invite unwant­ed spir­its to enter your life.… Read more »
Via

Try micona­zole nitrate. I’ve nev­er had alope­cia but it helped my hair grow very much. Please try it. Get it from wal­mart for 5 dol­lars. Apply it every oth­er day. Research it if you need more under­stand­ing. Bul­ly­ing is ter­ri­ble and can have long term impacts on a child. I know because my sis­ter and I went through it in mid­dle school. it still affects my sis­ter to this day. It’s worth giv­ing a try.

Joan B. in S. C.
I was diag­nosed with alope­cia areata in Sep­tem­ber 2010 after a relax­er fol­lowed two weeks lat­er by a black rin­se. As I nev­er had a rin­se before, I fig­ured it was a com­bi­na­tion of the two. The hair over more than 75% of my head was down to noth­ing but peach fuzz. My doctor’s office had me on sick leave for three weeks while I did noth­ing to my hair but use mois­tur­iz­ing sham­poo and con­di­tion­ing with no styling or cov­er­ing over my hair dur­ing the day. This did help, but when the WM der­ma­tol­o­gist they sent me to did… Read more »
Kris
I do not know your race and this is not to dis­crim­i­nate. How­ev­er, when I was orig­i­nal­ly diag­nosed in mid­dle school the doc­tors told me to wash my hair dai­ly. They gave me steroid pills and a cream. Keep your scalp clear of oils etc. Well we lis­tened to the doc­tors and my hair went from down my back to bare­ly at the nape of my neck. With no results. We went to a black spe­cial­ist and he grew my hair back with no prob­lem. He stat­ed we need oil and cer­tain things for our scalp. He sug­gest­ed I use… Read more »
lynne

yeah I have this going on right now. I’m not sure whats caus­ing it but I’m mak­ing an appoint­ment as we speak.

Deedeemaha

I don’t know how they test for alope­cia but for fun­gus they took a scrap­ing from the scalp and sent it to a lab. My daugh­ter spots look just like pic­tures above some big­ger. They said it would have cov­ered her whole head. So glad I pushed the doc­tor to look into what my styl­ist
Thought it was. Hope this helps some­one who has not enter­tained the idea that it could be fun­gus. Esp. If they have been using lots of gel, wear­ing weaves, and wigs.

Deedeemaha
When my daugh­ter was younger I found 5 spots in her head like yours. One spot was about the size of quar­ter. This was years ago, I nev­er heard of the word alope­cia any­thing. I did ask my styl­ist he told me to make a appoint­ment with my doc­tor for a fun­gus test. Make sure to ask for nizoroal (?). What was inter­est­ing is the doc­tor said oh no it’s not a fun­gus. Blah blah blah. That’s when I said look my styl­ist said.…… Fun­gus. She went and got a med­ical book. Lol. Did the test, it’s fun­gal. You need… Read more »
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