alopecia regrowth

Regrowth, regrowth, regrowth

Yes you read it right from my triple title above – my hair is back – thicker and fuller that it’s been in ages. In my last post, I was heading in a downward spiral – in terms of mood and also hair loss – the dreaded patches were emerging again. Well  – they’ve all gone from my head and I finally have 100% regrowth. I don’t have to avoid triple mirrors in dressing rooms anymore!

dressing room

Here’s how I maybe managed it

I’d love to say ‘it just happened’ and grew back like last time – but it never. The truth is I don’t know what’s helped the most as I’ve tried to make so many different positive steps.

I made a conscious effort not to head down the same sad, obsessive path I was on way back when this all started. Instead I took affirmative action. I may have started too many things  – which is an issue as now I don’t know which (if any) are helping – so I’m carrying on with all of them – as long as my bank balance will allow.

Here’s a list of things I think may have contributed to the regrowth – in no particular order:

1. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

I am still taking the LDN every night – 4.5 mg. I have never really had side effects  – I talked about starting to use it here. This costs me £30 ish for every prescription.

2. A mystery potion from the Middle East

When I was in Australia in December 2016, I met someone who told me their regrowth was helped by using a lotion they bought over the internet from a Middle Eastern country. Immediately my thoughts turned to snake oil salesman and the charlatans that I was very critical of in an earlier post which focused on the treatments I’d tried.

Nevertheless I agreed to purchase said lotion – which is pretty expensive. The cost of the treatment is also the reason I’m not name-checking or linking to it here as I feel it’s not ethical to do so. I don’t really know if it honestly works and I don’t want anyone to get in debt because of me, then be upset if it doesn’t work.

If you really want to know the details please message me privately. Though I am in no way endorsing or supporting this product. It is one of the many things I have been doing.

You can private message me via the social media pages that I have created for this blog:

Even if you don’t want to message me – you might like to follow the social media pages anyway 🙂

I paid £400 for a three month supply of this lotion which I was instructed to rub into my scalp every night and wash off the next day. I honestly don’t know if it’s this that’s helping but I’m still rubbing it in every night like a drone anyway.

I have been doing this for around 3 months.

3. Yoga & relaxation

I have tried to make time for yoga as it allows me time to relax and get in tune with my body and mind at the same time. I’ve been practising Forrest Yoga with an amazing tutor in Edinburgh for a while now and it really helps me feel better at the end of a sweaty session!

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Striking a yoga pose on my 39th birthday in Singapore – December 2016

It’s also really handy as it’s near my work. If any of you ever get the chance – swing by Leith Yoga studio for a class with Janet.

4. Therapy

I think as a result of the years of stressing about being stressed, worrying about hair loss and analysing my thoughts – I’m finally pretty in-tune with myself and tend to realise when my body and mind are stressed, manic and winding out of control.

I can usually feel tenseness in my body or hear the internal chatter building to a crescendo and either loosen up or quieten down to try and combat the feelings that used to spin me out of control.

To help with this – earlier in the year I started talking therapy. I have done this once previously  – 6 sessions recommended by my doctor when my hair first started falling out. This time it’s different – I’m paying for this therapist and can talk about whatever I like.

It’s rare that we get a chance to openly talk about our lives and what has contributed to make us the people we are. From family to work and relationships – everything has an effect and impact on your current view of the world and yourself. I have found it really helpful to be able to discuss all of the above with my therapist. I am going to keep going in the future – but not as regular.

5. Vitamins

I’ve been gobbling a handful of pills every morning on top of the LDN. As I mentioned a few posts ago – the concotion I’m self-medicating with includes the following capsules:

  • Vitamin D
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin C
  • Acidophilus
hair tonic with phytofol

Hair Tonic

I’m still taking the Chinese medicine – in the form of a capsule with Phytofol -this herb is used to nourish the liver and replenish Kidney energy (Jing) to promote healthy hair follicle function.

So what’s next?

I’m too scared to stop using anything right now. I think I’ll wait until my ‘big birthday’ is over in December and wean myself off the LDN and mystery lotion. Am going to keep up the yoga, therapy and vitamins as they are fairly low cost compared to the other two.

I’m currently really happy – loving life and quite chilled out. As I’ve always said in this blog – I think my happiness and contentment is contributing towards my regrowth more than anything I’ve listed above – however:

  • my mood may not have been so happy had I not had regrowth
  • regrowth might not have happened had I not proactively taken all the steps above

I haven’t a clue what’s working but I stand by every decision I’ve made as at least I’m doing something and I’m so glad I don’t feel the need to obsess about falling hair at the moment.

I move house in September so we shall see if I can maintain this low stress lifestyle.

I’ll keep you posted.

Reece.

Patchy hair- don’t care

Ok  – so that’s a blatant lie. I do care  – but I’m adopting a much more relaxed approach to falling hair – when I see it on my laptop, desk or pillow I flick it off and try not to stress about it – most of the time.

What’s changed?

Nothing, I just know from past experience that stressing will not help me in the slightest. I am also trying out my ‘mini habits’ in an effort to curb stress and freak outs. They seem to be working.

The spots

O.K. so the hives/urticaria are still coming and going and I’m unsure if they are caused by emotional stress or intolerances but they remain a constant at the moment.

Is the hair loss following the same pattern as last time?

Nope. It is now coming away everywhere! Last time it was confined to my head – face and scalp. This time my chest hair is taking a beating. Have a gander at this:

The chest

Last time I lost hair on my scalp, I didn’t really lose any on my chest – apart from one wee dot – which as you can see has now spread and had lots of little spotty babies dotted in random places across my chest.

alopecia areata patches on my chest

Patchy Chest

My scalp

I keep looking at the patch on my left side whenever I get out of the shower – but the same apocalyptic feelings just aren’t there as much anymore – I give a wee shrug and feel a bit shit but so far I can pat hair over it and carry on with my day. When the day comes – or should I say – if – it comes, I have a handy pair of shears with my head’s name on them. I’ve done it before and have no issue with shaving it all off again.

I do have a few patches on my head but they seem to be minimal compared to the fast spreading ones on my chest. And like I said – I’m really not that bothered at the moment

The good news

My facial hair seems to be returning! Amidst all the shedding, my moustache is making a bit of a comeback. I am not going to rival Tom Selleck anytime soon but it’s coming back very, very slowly.

So I can now have a moustache! Ok it’s patchwork kind of moustache but it’s mine, I grew it and my face feels ‘normal’ again. It’s like I’m 14 again and trying to prove I NEED to shave. I forget it’s there but every time I see it, I have a wee smile.

So I was off work for a full week and didn’t shave. This is the result:

half moustache regrowth from alopecia

14 year old flashback

Those wee white hairs on my chin have been there since September 2012, when I hoped they would gradually turn black and grow like they used to. They haven’t so far – so I may rock a badger beard in the future – who knows.

Eyebrows

I’m pretty unsure what’s happening with these former caterpillars. I keep thinking that my left eyebrow is filling in a bit and then i notice wee spots of bald across both eyebrows and the panic sets in again. I can deal with no hair but would rather keep my eyebrows and eyelashes this time if possible.

eyebrows august 2016 close up

Eyebrows August 2016

The Future

God knows what’s to come with the hair anywhere on my body. I’m heading to Australia, Singapore and Thailand in December so who knows if I am going to be getting my bald head burnt or crossing continents with a decent head of black hair. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

Out damn spot. . .

Howdy folks

Can I start by saying that – the reason I started this blog was to:

“post pictures and share stories of how I’m getting on with alopecia areata as I want to be a positive voice for a not-so-positive type of hair loss”.

I was sick of hearing horror stories and reading depressed people on blogs who (in my mind at the time) were obsessed with the reason for their alopecia.  I thought that their quest was an all-consuming, doomed crusade.

The above quote was my mission statement when I began the blog – but I failed to realise I actually was (and to an extent still am) one of those obsessed people – trying to work out ‘Why me’?!

What’s happened over the course of the few years I’ve been blogging is that I’ve started to dread these confessional moments – so much so that recent posts have been few and far between. I didn’t want to jinx the fact my hair was coming back by talking about it – and I didn’t want to sound like a whiny obsessive.

BUT – here I am -owning the fact that I am a whiny obsessive – at times. And that’s cool – I mean – my hair is coming out in patches across my head for f*cks sake! So I’m going to cut myself some slack, stop obsessing about obsession and get you up to speed.

I wrote the following blog post yesterday and I talk about my newest obsession – SPOTS. . .

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Last time I explained that the patches are peeking through again. What I failed to mention was that this time they’ve been accompanied by some other weird affliction – hives/spots/urticaria whatever you wanna call it.

Spot the difference

This started in January 2016 when I noticed a few red spots on my hand. I brushed them off as just wee spots or maybe contact dermatitis. However – over the past few months  – as my hair has been falling – the spots/hives have been coming back and spreading all over my body with an almost daily regularity.

 

This isn’t anything new – I have always had seasonal bouts of skin flare ups – as most folk do – prickly heat/heat rash and a wee bit of eczema occasionally. However – as this has coincided with my second bout of hair loss – my frantic mind overtook my sensible one and I started becoming reacquainted with the manic Google search. Worst mistake ever.

In-between protracted google searching and obsessing over the placement of dots – I kept badgering my doctor to get me referred to a dermatologist for both my alopecia and this new skin issue.

I finally got an appointment last week at the dermatologist – when I arrived I had NO spots – typical. I did have the above photos on my phone – which I showed her. She diagnosed Cholinergic Urticaria. So that’s a double whammy of alopecia areata and cholinergic urticaria.

Why is my immune system such a twat?

Cholin-er-what-now?

Sometimes referred to as heat bumps, as the rash appears as very small – surrounded by bright red flares.

What causes cholinergic urticaria?

A rise in core body temperature resulting in sweating causes the rash in cholinergic urticaria. Common triggers can include:

  • Exercise
  • Hot baths/showers
  • Emotional stress

Argh – stress rears it’s ugly head again as a potential trigger 😦

Obviously as my alopecia’s back & this is happening – I’m now stressing out more about both of the above – a vicious cycle of anxiety is occurring – and whirring. My already strung out brain is wondering if I have literally brought all of this upon myself – with the aforementioned ’emotional stress’.

So what am I going to do?

Firstly I’m going to deffo STOP obsessing and googling ‘hives‘, ‘red dots on skin‘, ‘urticaria‘ and all the rest every five frigging minutes – we all know where frantic googles lead…usually to a diagnosis of cancer or some other terminal, tropical, incurable disease.

I’m going to try to chill the f*ck out – on a daily basis – this applies both at home and work. Easier said than done but I have a few ideas:

How I’m going to chill:

  1. I’m going to try to start a daily practise of mindfulness  – even for just five minutes – every single day
  2. I’m going to start going back to Bikram Yoga – I went for a few months last year and loved it. I haven’t been for a while and am thinking it might help
  3. I’m going to keep exercising 3 or 4 times a week
  4. I am going to try and write more on this blog
  5. This is the hardest one – I’m going to try and cut down on the alcohol and processed food. I generally eat a healthy, vegetable and protein heavy diet but I do like the regular beer/wine/gin.

 

So what am I going to do if nothing works?

If, after 3 months (September 2016) none of the above help my current situation (spots and patches) – I’m tempted to go back on anti-anxiety medication – to stop the constant whirring thoughts and chatter that occupy my brain during most of my waking and worrying hours. Thoughts that are either taken up by spots or hair loss. What an exciting combo – spot and patch sound like a pair of low-rent strippers.

I’m having a daily battle with the should I – shouldn’t I. Maybe the anti anxiety medication will stop the hives and/or alopecia – or just stop me worrying about both.

Here’s hoping that in 3 months  – I’ve calmed down and either gotten used to being spotty and patchy – or they have cleared up.

I will, as ever  – keep you posted. Give me a shout if you want to chat or if you have any advice on the above.

Cheers

Reece

 

 

Hello Darkness, my old friend…The return of Alopecia and departure of hair (again).

No, this post isn’t an homage to Simon & Garfunkel, as lovely as they are. I’m merely borrowing lyrics to highlight my current mood. It’s getting darker – which is the inverse of my hair – which is getting lighter. By lighter I mean patchier. By patchier – I mean – the always lurking alopecia areata is making a comeback 😦

One year on

It’s been precisely a year since I started to grow my hair back in. I shouldn’t whine – I had a full head of regrowth for summer (no sweaty cap or burnt scalp for me) and for my sister’s wedding. In the back of my mind I always knew it would come back (or go – whichever way you look at it).

When people asked me or saw an old photo of me and were puzzled – I’d explain that I have Alopecia – not had. I would never trust them when they said “Really, I would never know”. Such is my paranoia when it comes my hair.

IMG_5670

Paris, March 2016

Never really went away

I never had full regrowth, below is a list of the stuff that didn’t properly grow back when my luscious mane did:

  • My eyebrows never fully grew back to the Brooke Shields/Cara Delevigne caterpillars that they were  – but at least I had some – even if it did look like I’d over-plucked
  • A patch on my chest and trunk – which started when my head hair came back.
  • I had one patch of (no) hair – above a newly returned grey spot which never came back in (see below)

grey bit

 

What am I going to do this time?

You may remember last time I tried a few things? This time I don’t want to radically overhaul my diet (as I’ve been steadily eating healthier foods and upping my fitness levels for the past few months). I gave up smoking – in January and am drinking less alcohol than I ever have.

I seriously believe that my alopecia is either:

  • a cyclical thing  – that I have no control over
  • it’s triggered by stress – which I do have control over
  • both

Point is, if I remove or react to stress better, it’s a win-win. I know how mini stressful episodes affect me – I get a racing mind, laboured breath and a tightness of  muscle. Whether these mini episodes have contributed to my alopecia or not – I don’t want them. So…

This time, the only things I’m going to do are:

  • Try (and I do mean try really hard) to calm the f*ck down
  • Try not to stare at the ever increasing patches of pink skin
  • Remember to breathe – seriously, I’m making a conscious effort to take big long lung-bucket-fulls of breath – it’s not only good for the soul – focussing on my breath will stop my mind racing about impending baldness

I just need to remember that I’ve been through all this shit before. The ‘worst’ that can happen is actually more of an inconvenience – having to shave my head, facial hair and patchy eyebrows off on a daily basis. It isn’t life threatening and lots of people are going through much worse than me.

I’m away to snort some oxygen and (not) look at my hair in the mirror!

 

 

 

my scribble

Practice what I preach?

It’s time to take heed of my own advice – as some of you who follow this blog may know – I recently started growing my hair in as it has started to come back all of a sudden.

Not yet ‘full circle’ – damn it!
A strange thing is happening – some people who got to know me P.A. (Post Alopecia) now imagine me as always having a bald head or a fair complexion. Which is crazy to me as I have always had really dark black hair.

When the hair started to come back I thought “Ah this process is like a circle (cue ham fisted analogy…) I am coming back to a full head of hair – full circle – onwards and upwards. The circle analogy also worked when analysing my actual hair or lack thereof – the ever increasing/decreasing circles.

Here is where my circle analogy works – no really:

I conveniently forgot that a circle is the same shape on both sides – to get from one to the other  you follow the same shape and in my case – to go from no hair – to growing more – I am experiencing the same feelings. This isn’t great news.

Jesus that was laboured! 
Apologies – maybe my wee doodle will help explain what I’m not articulating that well…
my scribble

Circles! That appear as ‘missing patches’ and the trajectory of feelings you go through. From bad to better and back again

I now seem to have regressed to a state of embarrassment and acute paranoia as the remaining holes (or circles if I am to flog this damn ‘circle‘ related analogy) seem much more visible thanks to the abundance of reappearing black hair – highlighting the fleshy pink islands of baldy skin.
top of a head recpvering from alopecia areata

March 2015


Some recent comments from colleagues and folk I have met since having a shaved head:
  • “I can’t get over how dark your hair is”
  • “I could have sworn you were blonde”
  • “Ooh I am going to have to get used to the new you”
A couple of people haven’t actually recognised me or done the dreaded double take. Which happened ALL the time when I was losing my hair – especially when I had just shaved it off and had zero eyebrows.

My AA meetings
Some people I see regularly didn’t even know I had alopecia and (I hate to admit this) but I have started to revert to my old stock ritual of blurting out “I HAVE ALOPECIA” added as a tag on to any conversation with a person I suspect is wondering what the f*ck is going on with my hair.
My justification is that I am making people feel more comfortable but I know it is really down to low self esteem and panic that they may think I have mange! 🙂
How am I dealing with this?
I have gone back to my old faithful wardrobe of hats – detailed here and seem to freak out when I have to walk around sans hat! Which is every day at work 09.00 -17.30.
I walk to the shops at lunchtime with beanie pulled firmly over my head – not usually an issue with the bleak Scottish weather – though today was sunny, I had a wooly hat on – a sweaty head and decided -TAKE YOUR OWN EFFIN ADVICE!!!
As a result, I have been thinking about the advice I have given over this blog and to many people who have emailed me. I have just read through all of my correspondence from you amazing blog watchers and re-read all blog posts, to try and take heed of some of my own advice.

My advice – which I need to tackle ‘head’ on:
  • Walk tall and let people look – They can look and think what they like, their stares or opinions will not impact the growth of my hair BUT letting potential stares worry me COULD.
  • Stop worrying about the hair – Worrying is not a valuable past time – especially when worrying about an auto-immune condition that may or may not be triggered by stressful situations.
  • Stop running my hands through my ever increasing head fluff (and waiting to see hair come off in my hand) My hair is not falling out like it was so I need to STOP looking for something to be sad/worried about.
  • Stop staring in the mirror – My reflection isn’t going to change in an instant and staring at something for long periods of time leads to obsession and distortion. Try staring at your nose in the mirror for a long time and you will see what I mean!

 “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to turn it into a door”

Coco Chanel

Everyone has their setbacks and I feel I am now in a similar process (looks wise) as I was when I took the decision to shave my head. There are patches of missing hair and I am in two minds whether to shave it all of again or carry on growing it and seeing what happens.

shaved head with alopecia

My hair after I first clippered in 2012

March 2015

March 2015

What I am planning to do:
Having a shaved head is easier in a way as people just assumed – as above – that I was balding, blonde or they knew I had Alopecia.
Growing back the hair and the visual effects I see (or imagine others are seeing) are dredging up the same feelings I had pre head shave but as stated earlier – I am going to keep on trucking and see this through.
Last time the circles were expanding – this time they are slowly decreasing – so I figure that in a few weeks, the remaining patches will fill themselves in slowly over time.
Whatever happens I will keep you all posted! And accept my apologies for the circle analogy I tried to foist on all of you!
Thanks everyone for sharing your similar stories, words of encouragement, your images and best wishes.
Cheers
Reece

Addendum:
I am thinking of adding a forum to this blog so other people can share their stories and speak to whoever else they want to. It has been cathartic, extremely helpful and so unbelievably positive chatting to you all so far and I would like the many people who have emailed me to have an easy to use, open network of communication from which they can reach out to other people in a similar situation for advice or support.
Let me know what you think and I will get a WordPress plugin for forum functionality.

Me. November 2014

Well here I sit on the beach in Edinburgh with Kitty – my puppy. Almost a full head of hair (apart from a slow growing patch at the back and a few tiny wee holes dotted around).

Oh yeah and pretty much one and a half eyebrows and full set of eyelashes!

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Photo update – my Alopecia and regrowth – 2.5 years on.

Howdy Blog watchers

I am so sorry for the delay in posting pictures. I have been pretty busy with the birth of our wee girls 7 Boston Terrier puppies. Check the cuties out here.

Back to the hair – enough puppy chat/excuses!

Here I am attempting to show you (in pictures) the spread, loss then regrowth of my hair over  a 2.5 year period. My Alopecia started as little spots on my chin back in November 2011. I thought it was just Alopecia Barbae and was still distressed- then it gradually spread and I shaved my head  in 2012- detailed here.

Where it all began – first ‘spotted’ in November 2011 and by the time it got this big – I was officially scared, depressed and stressed!! (March 2012):

two spots of nothing.

Two spots of nothing.

Comic Hitler tache

Comic Hitler ‘tache

looking scared

Chunk missing

 

 

 

 

 

The first image was taken in June 2012.

Once my facial hair began to disappear – so did my hair: The first spots appeared/ hair dissapeared in July 2012.

The big shave

So I shaved it all off on holiday in Spain in August 2012

Baldy Bald

Baldy Bald

And here is an above head shot from when I first shaved:

The solar system at the start

The solar system at the start

 

Is there any hope?

I started to notice thin white hairs growing back into my facial hair loss in September 2012

chin with alopecia regrowth

regrowth on my chin

September 2012 regrowth – Egypt

I was hoping that the blonde would go black straight away – it didn’t.

My hair kept disappearing, too: here is a peek from the front and top (both taken in October 2012).

My head with alopecia

From the front

My head with alopecia

From the top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2012

Alopecia head

My right side

man with alopecia areata

In the middle of my long alopecia episode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 November 2012

November 2012

Right side

November 2012

Left side

 

 

My eyelashes and  eyebrows started to disappear in November 2012.

Alopecia Eyebrows and missing eyelashes

Eyebrows up close

alopecia on an eyebrow

Disappearing caterpillar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eyebrows were a low ebb – but the loss of my eyelashes are what made me feel more alien – literally. It is a strange sensation not having eyelashes. People gave me a second look as they couldn’t quite put their finger on ‘what wasn’t right’.

I have detailed in another post my experiences trying to hide my missing eyebrows.

 

In case you can’t be bothered reading that post and want to see what my pencilled-in efforts looked like:

eyebrows alopecia

Pencilled-in eyebrow as of November 2012

I tried a number of  different ways to regrow my hair or at least hide the fact I had Alopecia, but found that a close shave (in the end) was best. At this point I was shaving my head daily and ignoring the ever-decreasing eyebrows and lashes.

My facial hair was also fast disappearing  – again taken in November 2012.

Facial hair disappearing alopecia

My chin

alopecia facial hair

From the side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2012

The patches started  to spread quicker – which made my Christmas elf hat less itchy as there wasn’t as much stubble to aggravate it.

As you can see from the images below most of the holes started to join up with each other especially the two big ones at the left hand side! I hate those two bad boys.

My Alopecia December 2012

My head from the back

My Alopecia December 2012

The left hand side of my head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2013

In 2013 it seemed to progress quicker. Here is the top of my head taken in January 2013.

Alopecia as of January 2013

 

February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

Alopecia hair February 2013

At this point I was still wearing beanie hats and pencilling in my missing chunks of eyebrow.

March 2013

This was when I started realising that my eyebrows were more or less drawn on and I saw a picture and realised it was time to get rid of them.

pencilled in eyebrows

Abi and the eyebrows 🙂

shaved eyebrows following alopecia

shaved eyebrows following alopecia

 

As you can see, they looked fake and I hadn’t realised until I saw the image above. So in March 2013 I shaved them off in the shower whilst shaving my head.

The middle image above makes me look strange and if you look closely you can see that it is because my right eye has hardly any top eyelashes and the left eye does. Not a great look but now I looked bald and possibly blonde?! Just another balding fair haired guy? That is what I told myself and started to walk about without hats – in certain places anyway.

May 2013

  • Then the hair loss started to snowball and this was when I thought “F*ck it!”
  • My alopecia was getting worse and worse.
  • I had become resigned to it and pretty much everyone had seen it and knew what it was.
  • I still got the odd comment but brushed it off because (finally) I was in a stronger place and didn’t actually care as much as I did at the start.

Now that’s progress!

The images below are from July 2013. As you can see there is hardly any hair left at all.

Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013 Alopecia hair May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alopecia hair July 2013 Alopecia hair July 2013

Alopecia hair July 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images represent the worst my Alopecia got (It seems strange saying that but I don’t want to jinx anything). Then I stopped taking photos as much of my head as I actually forgot about it!

Forgetting about it

Here I am forgetting about it at a wedding in Valencia in September 2013.

Valencian wedding

Guests at a Valencian wedding

I decided to forget and what happened a month later??? The bastard started coming back!!! Exactly two years since I noticed it going!!!!! My previous post was correct! And there is hope for all you people out there who got this late and are hoping yours may come back in this famed two year period!!!

November 2013 THE RETURN OF MY HAIR!

Alopecia regrowth November 2013

Alopecia regrowth November 2013

Whaddya know –  it kept on growing through December. Merry Effing Christmas!!!!

 

2014 – The year of regrowth

The year started well for me.

Here I am in January…. More progress on my regrowth in my next post………

December 2013 Alopecia regrowth

Kisses from Coco

December 2013 Alopecia regrowth

Haaaaaappy Christmas

 

 

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.

My hair is coming back.

My hair has slowly started growing back.

And I mean painfully. Slowly.

Creeping back into existence…

chin with alopecia regrowth

regrowth on my chin

  • I first noticed it coming back and blogged about it way back in May 2012.
  • The image to the right shows my face squished against a black bag under a bright light so you can see (if you look really really hard) that there are some hairs there!
  • But that was all it was – wee whitey/blonde hairs that needed to be shaved off my face everyday.

I just carried on and forgot about this.

THEN – all of a sudden. . . .

January 2014 – my partner  (who takes all the pictures I share with you) said to me:

“Put your head down a second!”

After looking puzzled then twigging it was about my Alopecia (and therefore my vanity) I whipped my head down.

Arghhhh “It’s coming back! It’s coming back”!

Photographs

Naturally I wanted proof of this – here is an image from March 8 2013.

my disappearing hairline

slowly slowly

 

And here is an image from January 2014

 

My head in January 2014

My head in January 2014

 

Woohoo – still a long way to go but I am getting there.

 

I hope that my regrowth has given some of you a glimmer of hope.

Speak to you all soon and please get in touch with any comments, queries and concerns.

 

Reece.