Alopecia areata is a disease of the hair follicle which causes sudden hair loss ranging from patches the size of a quarter to complete baldness. Although not life-threatening, the disease is certainly life-altering. Here are excerpts from a piece I wrote for The National Alopecia Areata Foundation:
Parents of children with alopecia areata want you to know that classmates make fun of their loved ones. They want you to know that their children are being expelled from school for wearing a hat – their scant refuge from ridicule … Siblings want you to know that neighborhood kids won’t play with them because their brother or sister has no hair.
Think what it would be like to be five years old and bald. Try to see alopecia areata through the eyes of parents watching their child’s hair fall out in patches each day. Or imagine being young, attractive and engaged … and suddenly losing all your hair.
Yes, alopecia areata is a disease. But to a six-year-old boy, it’s the bully who stalks him in school corridors. No, it shouldn’t make a difference. But tell that to Rick Smith, a successful TV personality who lost his job when he lost his hair… Maybe it’s only a temporary setback. But to a pretty teenager, it’s being alone – and stares that last forever.