My Friend Called Alopecia By Preeti Ubhi

I was 31 when I first realised I was losing hair when someone at a wedding kindly pointed it out to me! Before that, I don’t think I had realised, but then when I looked at a picture from that night, I noticed I had developed a bald spot where my fringe started, and that’s where the obsession began. As I started asking people about it, some told me they hadn’t noticed, and others were more honest and admitted they had noticed but didn’t want to upset me. I used to have beautiful long hair from a very young age, which was never an issue because there was so much of it.

After my realisation, I spent a couple of years obsessively checking my hair. I would even use a small mirror every time I went to the toilet at work to have a look at my crown to see how much was showing. I basically felt like I had lost something so important to me, and I was grieving. It may sound vain to some people, but losing your hair can be so damaging to your confidence. I have always been the type of person that researched everything, so I threw myself into finding out about female hair loss and came across a condition called Telogen Effluvium which means you lose hair due to something such as trauma and that it tends to grow up. I went through two miscarriages within 6 months, so I put it down to that. But after a few months when it was getting worse, I was at a loss. I had read about another condition called Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), which is irreversible. In a nutshell with AGA when you lose hair, your follicles start to shrink, and you don’t get the same amount of hair back. The hair that does grow back tends to be thinner, and over time, your scalp shows more and more. I sought help from my doctor, who ran numerous blood tests which came back normal. He prescribed me iron tablets, and I tried every vitamin possible, which is recommended for hair loss, and again, nothing helped.


I even chopped my hair into a pixie cut, hoping this would disguise it! I looked terrible! When I fell pregnant with my daughter, I temporarily forgot about it, but then I lost more hair, and the grief came back. I finally got referred to a dermatologist in London who diagnosed me with Androgenetic Alopecia. I knew I would get it eventually as it runs in my family, but they said mine got triggered by the miscarriages earlier than my mums did. They said the only thing that could work as a treatment was called Minoxidil, but I wasn’t keen on using a chemical, and I would have to use it for life with no guarantees of it working. Over the years, I have spent money on a herbalist, a natural trichologist, expensive herbal treatments, various shampoos, oils, and vitamins. Having this condition really set me back; I felt really embarrassed and insecure about what other people would say to me. Going to any function made me feel on edge and anxious, I really did not want everyone’s two pence worth of diagnosis and treatments. I’ve had a variety of comments such as “it’s not that bad you’re just imagining it,” “well at least you are not ill” and a host of ‘cure’ suggestions.

@boostnblend


My first turning point was discovering hair fibres. I used fibres by ‘BoostnBlend’ that stick to your hair and hides patches. As my hair loss wasn’t particularly bald patches, this worked so well. I used it most days, especially when going work and for a couple of years, it gave my confidence back. But then last year my hair got even worse. I got diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and I realised that the hair fibres were looking more obvious.

Hair toppers


I then came across a couple of Instagram accounts of ladies who wear what are called hair toppers. Hair toppers clip onto your natural hair and come in different base sizes depending on your loss. I discovered a whole hair loss community on Instagram, and even today, this community has been my saving grace. I spent every night watching videos of women putting on toppers and learned how to blend them with your own hair to make it natural. I only came across one account belonging to an Indian lady who was open about it and watching her put a topper on made me decide that I needed to try one. I found a salon an hour away from me that does them and booked an appointment. I have not looked back since! The one I brought from the salon wasn’t the best one, but it worked for a while. I wore it to a family wedding the week after getting it and felt terrific! And funnily enough, people who didn’t know I was going to get one didn’t even realise. I then did more research and eventually found my perfect topper by a company called ‘Perfect Fringe’ and now own three of them. I very rarely leave the house now without my topper on, and I feel like I have finally got my confidence back.

Left: Without a hair topper. Right: With a hair topper

I decided to open up on Instagram about it mainly because I wanted to reach out to other women in my community, going through the same thing. Before finding the hair loss community, I felt so alone in my experiences. I get a lot of messages from other women asking how I have managed to accept my alopecia; what worked for me was allowing myself to go through the grieving process, accepting that my hair wasn’t coming back and connecting with other women going through the same thing. There are many ways other women have found solutions, for some it may be using hair fibres, toppers or wigs, and for others, it could be shaving their hair off. There’s no right or wrong, everyone has to find a solution that they feel comfortable with. But remember, you will find your solution, and you will get your confidence with, it is trial and error for me, it was definitely toppers that gave me my life back.

To track Preeti’s journey follow her on instagram: @Preetikj

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