The treatments and coping mechanisms I tried and how they worked for me…

Well I am sure many of you reading this blog are here to find out what I am currently doing to encourage my hair to grow back!

If you haven’t already read my last post – aptly titled – My hair is coming back. Then you can read that first or after this one – it opens in a new window.

So – what have I tried?

Lots and I will tell you now that NONE really worked for me (in the sense of sprouting back lost hair I mean). Sorry if anyone read this and got their hopes up. However – what didn’t work for me – may work for you.

Hats

abfabfestival

  • As discussed in my lengthy post which details my hair shaving. I quickly became a fan of hats – all kind of hats.
  • They were good at hiding it initially – though the wind quickly became my enemy.
  • Not great for a posh dinner or a fancy restaurant. A cheeky old man even told me to take my hat off in one restaurant. I was tempted to play the “I have cancer card” but decided just to skulk away mumbling.

I digress, hats are OK at first but when your patches become too large and appear under the hat – or if it’s too hot outside and you are continually sweaty – I found it best to get rid. Once I had shaved however I do continue to wear hats in winter.

Professionals

  1. Doctors: My local GP was useless – told me I had male pattern baldness and after much pleading referred me to a dermatologist and gave me anti-depressants (keep reading – that bit is further down).
  2. Dermatologist: Confirmed I had Alopecia Areata (I already knew this) and said:

50% of my clients with Alopecia have had a trauma, stress, death of a loved one – the other 50% have had no such occurrence. It may all come back, some might, or it might never come back and progress to Alopecia Universalis.

His comments helped immensely as I thought – fine – there is no point getting false hope.

man showing half eyebrow

half an eyebrow with alopecia

  • This was my first kick up the arse. He also handed me a leaflet (usually reserved for burn victims and people who have been disfigured through injury). He informed me that “Your image is changing and you need to come to terms with it”.
  • My metaphorical kick up this arse smarted even more when he delivered that blow.
  • But now –  on reflection – I am so thankful he said it. Alopecia does change you and it’s how you deal with your constantly changing face that helps you overcome your fears!

       3. Trichologist: This woman was awful – in my desperate state at the start of my journey I paid her £90 a session to ‘analyse my hairs’ and give me              ‘special lotion’ to rub into my scalp.

  • She then upped the ante and gave me Reflexology – which was lovely – but not worth the extra £50 a session.
  • She was a charlatan and when I became wise to the fact I was paying this money and had zero results – she had no argument apart from stating that “Your hair won’t come back anyway” – Screw you love!!!

Pills – Anti-depressants – I have discussed that at my lowest ebb – they really helped me from dipping so low.

  • If you are in a very dark place and they are an option available to you – then from my personal experience  I would encourage it.
  • I am not trying to push my views and again they may not be agreeable to you but they did help me out of a dark hole.
  • However you should always discuss in detail with your doctor and partner/loved ones before making this choice.

Alopecia areata

Hair regrowth tablets: My doctor gave me a prescription for Propecia (which I had to pay for). I felt this worked at first but after a year  – no change.

Lotions and potions: I tried the lotion that the ‘trichologist’ gave me which as I stated – didn’t work. I toyed with minoxidil but after my propecia failure – decided not to.

Garlic and Onions! I tried this after reading that in India that rubbing one or the other on the head on the patches encourages hair growth.

  • This theory was solidified when my Indian neighbour noticed my patches and offered to bring me garlic into the house as it “really worked for me”.
  • I thanked him and said I was fine – then ran into the house and began rubbing it on my head. It didn’t work but did make me and my pillows STINK.

Mindfulness: This didn’t help my hair growth but it did really help my mental health and encourage me to deal with my feelings.

Diet and lifestyle: I cut out sugars, caffeine, carbs and alcohol – all at different times – some for over 6 months – again no change – apart from the fact I obviously felt a little healthier (and deprived).

Exercise: I tried to keep fit – which boosted my mood and energy levels but did nothing for my hair. I had read that endorphins and hanging upside down helped so I did a reverse bungee jump and an actual bungee jump. Nothing.

Cosmetics and stuff

  • I tried spray on hair – for two minutes to cover my patches and realised I looked like David Gest so immediately washed it off.

    Glasses

    Glasses to hide the eyebrows

  • I successfully used eyebrow pencil for my eyebrows for a good few months – detailed here.
  • I enquired about a hair transplant then realised all of that would also fall out
  • I used a sun-bed when I first shaved my head to make my newly bald napper look less milky white – served a purpose at the time but would rather be pale than have skin cancer!
  • Glasses – used to hide the fact I had no eyebrows – I kind of liked the hipster look but wasn’t ‘kewl’ enough to pull it off.

So what DOES work?

  • I haven’t a clue – nobody does. And all these people telling you they have a cure – are full of crap.
  • In my experience it all comes down to coming to terms with how you look, may look and accepting how people perceive you.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your past self as you wont look anything like that image. I had dark black hair and bushy eyebrows. Now I have no eyebrows and a patchy head.

Cookie – crumbled. Sometimes a dose of tough love to yourself and a reality check is all you need.

Grin

Cheese

Acceptance is key – as are a supportive network of people around you – cheers to mine!  And go seek out yours.

23 comments

  1. Hey Man,

    I’m so happy that you’re seeing regrowth!!! This was one of the first blogs I ever read when I was diagnosed with Alopecia barbae….I currently have 2 spots in each side of my chin ( somewhat similar to yours from pics you posted when this all started for you) and it’s been really hard to accept them. I’m about 6 months in, they continue to spread a little and I’m getting the steroid shots. Reading your blog has helped me start to come to terms with what’s going on. I’m still getting told ” no one even notices, it’s no big deal” which is reassuring but I know that this can get worse. Like you I’ve spent countless hours searching online for cures, I know there aren’t any. Glad to hear that you were able to except what was going on and I’m genuinely thrilled that it looks like it’s coming back!

    Like

    1. Hey Dave – I am so pleased to hear from you and that you have been following this blog for a long time. I have found everything so much easier once I started accepting things for what they were. Things like not worrying about how I look at a an upcoming event, a business meeting etc. The way I found best to deal with these situations was to realise that people may look (and maybe look again) but will assume that we have something wrong in some way – whether it be a skin disorder, alopecia or cancer. But who cares?! I know you still might do which is totally natural -as I did – but you WILL get to a point where you think – f*ck it!! Haha. Don’t get me wrong I still do have the occasional glance in the mirror and check the progress. It is hard to get used to but you will get there. Once all your loved ones and people that you see on a regular basis are aware of what is happening – the other folk don’t matter as much. And as long as you feel and appear confident with who you are – this is all other people will see.

      Like

      1. Thanks for that, currently I’m seeing regrowth in the spots but they also continue to spread ( so hell yeah, and awe man, haha) but thankfully it’s stayed on my chin for the last 7 months. I continue to get shots and use cream, but honestly I think it will just come down to my body shutting this immune response off ( if it ever does). Hope you’re well!

        Like

      2. Hey – thanks for the update Dave and I think you are right – we just need to wait it out. Like a super long night before Xmas!!! I am good thanks and in the middle of writing my biggest blog post yet with lots of pictures of each stage. Hence my lack of replies. Hope your hair is continuing to come back in.
        Reece

        Like

    1. Thank you Brad! The responses on here have helped me!!! When I started doing this I still wouldn’t walk around town without my hat. Eventually it got better and now I am sharing pictures of all kinds of crap and actually telling the world I painted my eyebrows in!!!!

      How are you getting on?

      Like

      1. Pretty good I guess. No real re growth. Not spreading as fast as it was. Maybe that’s progress. Based on your time line I figure I have another 6 months or more. I am about 16 months in right now.

        Like

    1. I do indeed have fillings! Though this can’t be the cause as I still have them and my hair is coming back.

      I have been where you are – trying to diagnose and it really didn’t help as nobody knows why this happens – or there would be a cure or a pill to take. There isn’t. It is shit but as I keep saying – acceptance is key. It is scary and emotional and awful but once you stop looking for answers I think you will feel better 🙂

      Like

      1. Actually, we could say, yes this can be the cause or one of the causes, why?
        Because an amalgam filling release the mercury vapor on normal temperature and even faster from tooth brushing, eating acidic food, bruxism, stuff like that… An amalgam filling may last years, but for some people, let’s say, 20 years, and there is no mercury anymore in the amalgam filling (at least in one). This may vary from people to people, how big is the filling, and how fast you release mercury vapor.

        So let’s say, you have this fillings for a pretty long time, do you get what i say? If your body can deal pretty well eliminating this mercury from you, after the source mercury is gone, that might be the cause of your recovery. Just a thought…

        Also, having mercury filling in any living thing mouth doesn’t seems to be a good ideia, it’s almost like saying: Hey, let me put some uranium in your mouth!
        I do have one, just one, small one, and i don’t know if this is the case, but it seems to be, i will take this one out sometime this year, i will report back to tell how it’s going, but i’m afraid i don’t have the money to do some chelation therapy on this. (just changing the filling)

        I appreciate your help, i really need to get a little better on this stuff, like: Stop cursing this condiction when alone, and looking in the mirror compulsive. I’ve been through a long path, and i’m much better than before, i was desparated before, didn’t know a shit about this, and supposed to be everything, but luckly, i tried out just a few safe things, like eliminating gluten, and other food stuff related. Anyway, now i feel like, i don’t know what it is, i don’t know if i ever will know what it is, and i don’t know if i will ever resolve this, but i will die before giving up trying to resolve this “Get alopecia free or die trying – 50 cent – not a fan o 50 cent, just saying”. Trust me i feel a lot better, i feel positive now, i just need to stop the daily mirror abuse, and the ocasional cursing. lol.

        I’m lucky i don’t have a bad alopecia on my head, no patches, just some asymmetrical stuff, like on my neck, and some asymmetrical shit on my front and the beginning of side burns, but i’m ok, i have a head full of hair. My problem though is my beard, or my supposed to be beard (as i never had the chance to know how it would look like), when i was teenager, my stache thinned out of existence, and since then, i have the left side, with some coarse hair, and my middle/right with nothing but some vellus hair that takes 2 months to grow. My cheek developing beard vanished out of existence, and my chin is all asymmetrical patched coarse hair. My body hair developing seems to me impaired, and some patches shows on it.
        Strange, i seem to have 2 types of alopecia, areata and diffuse, my dermatologist said it’s areata, but whatever, she could’t help me with the minoxidil, and i’m not going to steroids in any former or matter.

        I’ll keep swimming and see what i can dig up, if i find my solution be sure that i will post here.

        Good luck to you all!!!

        Like

  2. Any update/ Improvement on the beard? I have more and more white hair coming in but no pigment. In other places, like my neck it seems to continue to spread. I was just wondering what your seeing and if this is how it progressed for you?

    Like

    1. I’ve been following this thread since my beard started shedding and slowly advanced to the area just under my temples. Luckily it stopped there. A year and some months later I have almost full regrowth on my temple with the exception of patches on my chin and sideburns which are slowly closing in diameter. I have heard the lucky number is 2 years for alopecia to reverse itself, for those of whom do experience regrowth. At this rate, that sounds about right. I know how frustrating this disease is, especially the uncertainty aspect of it. Reece is spot on for saying that anyone who boasts a solution for A.A. is full of sh**. Armed with this understanding, I took a backseat to the progression of my alopecia and sought no professional attention. And lo and behold my hair is growing back. First hairs to surface are white and sickly, then white and coarse, then salt and pepper (b&w) and finally back to its original glory. So friends, my sincere advice is to wait it out. Let the body purge itself the natural way and save your time/money.

      I also want to add that upon researching A.A., there was one article that seemed to chronologically document my alopecia to the T. It was an interview published in the New York Times entitled “Expert Answers on Alopecia”. There was a segment where expert Angela Christiano responds to common questions and dispels common myths. The part that struck me the most was “Depending on the level of stress, a minor to severe shed can be initiated. Usually there is minor shedding of hair two to four weeks following an episode of stress, but at six weeks to four months, there can be a gradual and persistent hair loss that lasts about four months if the trigger disappears. Even if stress remains, the shedding may stabilize and not increase but be higher then normal. The key is to stop the trigger/stress or reduce it.”. This essentially described my situation to sequential perfection so I read on. I should add that stress comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re interested, here is the link for the full article:
      http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/consults/2010/12/27/expert-answers-on-alopecia/

      Reece, once again I think it’s wonderful that you were courageous enough to post your experience for guys like us to periodically check in and vicariously connect with you. This thing does a number on your confidence but instead you’ve emerged a stronger man, kudos to you for that and good luck to all on your alopecia journey.

      Like

      1. Hey Danny

        I also heard the number of 2 years was lucky and it seems to be working out for me – since my alopecia started I have heard tales of ‘someone who knew someone’ who had it for two years – and now I am that someone!!! And so are you!

        I also echo your favourable reviews of Angela Christiano as I read her interview too. Little nuggets of light at the end of the tunnel definetely helped me through this. Thanks for sharing her link.
        Thanks for your nice comments and for sharing your story too!
        Reece

        Like

  3. Hey Reece,

    My alopecia started about 7 months ago a tiny spot under my bottom lip. Since then it has spread into 1 really big circle on my left side of the chin and multiple (4-6) very little circles on my right side of the face and recently they’ve been spreading faster and faster.

    I’ve been doing steroid injections and started using minoxidill – no help. I do see white hairs every now n then but they usually end up falling out.

    This condition has had a huge impact on my confidence levels and just like yourself I find myself obsessing over it with constant mirror checks and feeling the bald spots.

    For some reason I have a tough time adjusting to this condition, even though I accepted that there’s nothing I can really do about it and alopecia will just decide what it wants to do for itself. Do you have any advice on how to reduce stress caused by alopecia? I’m a very healthy guy and I don’t really like using drugs but what’s your stance on anti-depressants? I feel like the more I stress about this thing the more it will perpetuate the condition, so I feel like tackling the psychological effects of alopecia is of utmost importance..

    Anyway, hope you still check this blog, would love to hear your thoughts and get an update on ur regrowth! The feeling must be surreal when you finally see that black hair comin out again (I have dark black hair myself so every patch is extremely noticeable).

    Take care,
    David

    Like

    1. Hi David – I am all for anti depressants – they really helped me out of a hole and I know they aren’t for everyone. I can’t tell you what to do but my experience was only positive – allowed time for my brain to chill out and stop obsessing. The reason I did this was the same reason you are seeking them out – to tackle the psychological effects.

      I am preparing a mother of a blog post (taking ages to upload the images hence my absence). My new post will chart my journey in images until present day. More and more hair is coming back – my face is full of white hairs very slowly turning black. It’s a very slow process for me but definitely coming back little by little.

      I have honestly stopped looking daily. How are you feeling now about yours? Any questions feel free to ask or email me privately. I know exactly what you are going through and it’s pretty awful. Take it easy.
      Reece

      Like

  4. Hello ! I am not an english speaker and have (till now) no scalp problems. But i read a lot about a skin fungus that is named Trichophyton Violaceum. There are ôters by witch the haïr grows after treatement, but by this one not. Did you travel ? Didn’t that begin after that? If yes, it could be something like that. If it doesn’t grow any more, maybe it’s not that, or it stopped spontaneously, oder you used an anti fungus shampooi tha stopped it’s evolution. … Anyway, if that’s this one, the haïr won’t grow any more at those places where there it’s no haïr . But at reading your story, i think you don’t have to worry,, your look is fine, you made the good choice trying to accept yourself as you are. There are pe alpe who share trier haïr because they like it so, i know, you didn’t make the choice, but you seem to have made another one: to love yourself as you are

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s