View Full Version : Alopecia Info. Read Now

12-20-2006, 01:00 AM
Hello Ladies,
I'm new to nappturality - just registered a few days ago - and I just read several responses to shared hair loss woes, so I had to share what I hope is valuable information. I noticed my first quarter-size, shiny bald spot a few years ago. I covered it w/ braids and went to my dermatologist who gave me cortisoid injections and told me to take Rogaine. I didn't take Rogaine because I heard that you have to keep taking it indefinitely or it's not effective. By the time I took my braids out, my hair grew back and I didn't think anymore about it until about a year later when I saw a bigger shiny bald spot. Then I got more patches of scalp in different parts all over my head. That's when I started looking for a new dermatologist, (only because my old one stopped taking insurance). Ultimately, I was diagnosed w/ alopecia areata, a recurring auto immune disorder that is sometimes hereditary and often strikes people w/ other auto immune disorders. In my case asthma, eczema, and allergies to certain foods. Basically, your white blood cells
mistakenly attack your hair follicles as if it were a foreign agent that shouldn't be there, (similar to the
body's reaction to certain foods you're allergic to). There is no definitive cause, (though stress is often cited as a contributing factor), and there is no cure. The white blood cells act normally or abnormally at apparent random times so the disorder often shuts itself off, causing hair to randomly grow and/or fall out for no apparent reason.
The good news...and most important...if caught early enough, (generally w/in months to a year of the first patch), various topical treatments and cortisoid injections are effective, like what my first doctor did w/o telling me how important it was to stick the program tp stop the disorder in its tracks - Rogaine would have worked and I wouldn't have to keep taking it, though again, the disorder would have likely come back, though probably not w/ the increased severity, (i.e., larger bald patches).
If treated w/in 1 to 2 years of seeing the first patch - I was diagnosed at about 1 1/2 years - more aggressive treatments are effective. I took a medication called DCNB, (once thought years ago to be a possible carcinogen, not so now. In fact its efficacy is being explored has a possible and somewhat controversial treatment for HIV patients. Please checkout research on your own for more). For alopecia areata, you rub DCNB on the effective areas and the idea is that the medicine causes a skin reaction that the white blood cells attack, which is what your white blood cells are supposed to do, and your immune cells leave your hair follicles alone - the abnormal response your trying to stop.
I wish I had pictures but trust me - I went from several
large patches of scalp all over my head to a full head of hair.
Initially, I shaved my head and sported a very close Ceasar cut through one year of treatment and for another year after that - only because I LOVED IT, (cold weather made the 'do a bit of a challenge but it was a blessing in the summer - especially since I swim). It was so LIBERATING! Ladies, believe me...YOU ARE NOT YOUR HAIR! YOUR BEAUTY IS WITHIN!! (And truly, here in L.A. I never had so many black men tell me how beautiful my hair was before - NEVER).
Now after sporting a short fro for the last several months - I'm experiencing a relapse, as my doctor said I would. But w/ the medication it shouldn't get any worse, (i.e., spread from the crown and nape of my head to the whole head), and it should grow back as before with fewer and less severe episodes in the future - if any.
I'll let you know. In the meantime, I can't stress enough the importance of loving yourself and PLEASE don't assume there is nothing you can do about your hair loss. (BTW, the prognosis for people who are diagnosed as children is far worse - it usually means a lifetime of recurring hair loss. And for some it affects the whole head or all the hair on your body. For these people and those who are diagnosed 3 to 5 years after the first patch is seen, treatment may be 50% to 70% effective at best - no matter what treatment you use, and there are others.) Be your best advocate and research all forms of alopecia to determine what might be causing your hair loss. ( I found my doctor at UCLA medical center that way - a specialist in the field. And, unlike other dermatologists in Los Angeles, he's not expensive - I no longer have insurance.) Before his diagnosis I assumed I had traction alopecia because I've worn braids off and on for years - though never too tight. Now I know I have what my grandmother had and I'm thankful. Hope it helps.
-Love well, live well. Peace.

01-08-2007, 09:57 PM
This is a lot of new information - for me anyway. Thanks so much for sharing.

01-11-2007, 05:18 PM
great info, thanks for sharing!

02-28-2007, 06:41 AM
Thank you so much for the information! I had stopped going to the dermatologist for the injections once my hair started growing back because I hate needles and the shame of the whole hair loss situation. I have "been" my hair for so long that losing it was the biggest blow to my ego. It has only been in the last year that I have learned love me and not just the hair. Coming on this board and deciding to go natural has been the best thing for me. I can't say thank you enough.