Most moms can attest to the fact that pregnancy equals awesome hair and postpartum equals panic attack mode questioning whether or not you’ll ever have hair again. 40% of women experience visible hair loss by the age of 40.
6 weeks ago I shared on the Austin Moms Instagram “People aren’t what they post to be”. And holy crap, people came out of the wood works with empathy, their own hair loss struggles, tips & tricks, and just general, LOVE! I never felt so good about sharing something so vulnerable.
This is my journey to living with Alopecia Areata.
I won’t go into the entire journey of stress that was encroached upon me 5 years ago, because ain’t nobody got time to listen to my belly aching; however, the short story is that our family had a lot going on and I was juggling entirely too much. We truly can only handle so much before our bodies crap out.
5 years ago I noticed a thinning spot when I went to pull my hair back. Not thinking too much about it, I made an appointment with my dermatologist thinking maybe I had some weird scalp fungus or something. After what felt like a very short appointment, my doctor told me in a super peppy voice “oh! you have alopecia areata!”. “Great!” I replied… “what can you prescribe me to make it go away?” That’s when I learned that alopecia is an autoimmune disorder and nothing really makes it go away. You can treat the symptoms of alopecia, but ultimately your hair follicles are mistakenly attacking your own immune system (white blood cells), resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. Nifty, right?
For the longest time I felt so ashamed and embarrassed about my hair loss. Not knowing how much hair I was going to lose during this process, I left my family here in Austin and embarked on a journey to Washington D.C. for a custom wig. After 2 separate trips to D.C. I’m now the proud owner of who/what I like to call “Shakira”. Shakira is my wig. She’s a she. She gave me so much confidence for a solid year and honestly, nobody really knew I even wore a wig. The trick was to never let a soul see me without her… so I wore Shakira to workout, to dinners, to preschool, you name it! She only came off at home.
As much as I loved her during the wig era, I’m happy to report that I haven’t worn Shakira in about 4 years; however, my first bout with alopecia was the absolute worst…. like I wasn’t sure if I was about to lose every damn hair on my head or not. And it’s funny, because whenever I talk openly about having alopecia areata for the first time, people either a. have no clue what it is or b. see this girl with all of this hair and think oh it must not be that big of a deal. Then I show them the pictures and they all have the exact same reaction… OH MY GOD, Allison, I had no idea.
WARNING: The following post contains images that may be disturbing to some readers. 🙂
The same dermatologist that “diagnosed” me with alopecia also started offering PRP treatments and wanted to use me as a guinea pig before they started offering the treatment to patients. PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy for hair loss is a three-step medical treatment in which a person’s blood is drawn, processed, and then injected into the scalp. PRP injections trigger natural hair growth and maintain it by increasing blood supply to the hair follicle and increasing the thickness of the hair shaft.
Y’all, IT WORKED! Check out my before and after featured on their website!
Alopecia is a funny thing. It comes and goes and just when you think, “yay, I’m cured!” a new spot pops up. I’ve had this guy for about 18 months.
I’m still trying to get to the root cause, because I struggle to believe that at the age of 32 that I just ALL of a sudden developed Alopecia. I’ve completely cut gluten out of my diet, but that hasn’t made a difference for my hair specifically. Recently I started seeing an acupuncturist who believes I have mold growing in my body causing gut issues, which over time has caused the alopecia. And there is science behind gut inflammation and autoimmune disorders. I’ve also started drinking green juice inspired by the Green Juice & Tequila podcast. At this point, who knows though? I’ll try just about anything, but the jury is still out on the acupuncture. I’ll report back after a few months of ridding my body of mold.
The intent of my original Instagram post was just to share that we’ve ALL got stuff going on and that who we are on social media isn’t really who we are underneath Shakira. Life is all relative and I fully recognize that my hair drama is just that. There are others out there that have it worse and for sure have it better. I just know that I’ve got my family, my faith, my friends, and overall, am blessed beyond measure. But just know… if you see me out and about and you tell me how pretty my hair looks, it literally makes my whole day!!
Give a compliment to a stranger… you never know what personal battle they might be fighting.
If you want to hear more about my hair loss, check out my amazing friend Melissa’s GREEN JUICE & TEQUILA podcast that we recently recorded on the topic of alopecia.