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When My Son's Hair Loss Became Something to Worry About

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I remember that quite ordinary day in November like it was yesterday. So ordinary, I don’t remember anything else about it. I just remember being annoyed that a hair stylist shaved two bald spots in my then 3-year-old son’s head. After a few hours (and maybe a recurring venting session over the next few days) I let it go because hair grows back. With all the possible things that can go wrong in life, hair always grows back.

Until it doesn’t.

It was some time after Christmas when the denial wore off and I allowed myself to look at the bald spots the stylist shaved off. No hair growth. No stubble of any kind. Weird, because of all the things to be upset over, hair always grows back, right?

I made an appointment with the pediatric dermatology center at a local hospital, next available time was about a month later. Perfect, because it’ll certainly grow back by then. I’ll just cancel when it grows back.

And there we sat a month later at our local hospital. Expanding bald spots, no stubble. Hearing the word we knew was coming: alopecia. Alopecia areata (AA) to be exact. We were listening to the doctor intently, only we were finishing his sentences because we had spent that past month researching as we waited. We learned that AA is an autoimmune disease. My son’s immune system is attacking his hair follicles. Two percent of the population has this disease and there may or may not be a cause, and it may or may not get better or worse, and treatments may or may not work. There is some sort of reason this happens, but no one knows why. And since no one really knows, well, anything about this disease, there is no cure.

So here we sit, somewhere between being thankful this isn’t a life threatening illness and being angry that my beautiful boy may lose his hair forever because he has a condition that we can’t determine. Trying to determine what doctor he needs to see, and if we should apply the prescribed steroid cream, or give him a probiotic. From dietary changes, to homeopathic treatments, to medication. It’s all a race against time to not only regrow his hair, but also stop him from losing more, and making sure that whatever is causing this doesn’t wreak havoc somewhere else.

So in a nutshell, my son has alopecia. And while I don’t know much, I do know we will try to find out what his body is fighting.

Alopecia will not get the better of his confidence, his mind or his body. It will not, ever, take over his life.

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Getty image by Oleksandr Hrytsiv

Originally published: February 14, 2018
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