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.

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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.

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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),… 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… 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… 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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