September is Alopecia Areata Awareness Month. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) has introduced a new awareness and fundraising campaign called “See Us in September” designed to help the public really see and understand those who are different because they are living with this autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.
Instead of the stigma that is often associated with baldness, especially female baldness, NAAF hopes to see communities celebrating uniqueness and they encourage individuals with alopecia to plan events where they can share their stories. As people hear the stories of the adversity that many with alopecia areata have faced, they will be inspired by their strength and fortitude.
Most have messages about self-worth, lessons to share that were hard-fought. We recently shared several women’s personal experiences with this kind of hair loss as told to TODAY.
Those who want to tell their stories during the month of September and participate in the campaign can contact the NAAF Office at 415.472.3780 to get information about how to fundraise for the Foundation to support its continuing efforts toward research, education and awareness for this disease.
Also in September, at least 16 major and minor league baseball teams are participating in “Team Up for Alopecia Areata!” which will involve a variety of awareness events and activities throughout the month.
Those with alopecia areata aren’t the only ones with hair loss who’ve been telling their stories and hoping to make a difference. Anagen effluvium is a hair loss that is most often caused by cancer treatment or exposure to toxic chemicals. It usually results in total hair loss, but for most people hair grows back within a few months of stopping treatment.
That isn’t the case for everyone, however. For some who used cancer drug Taxotere, they found out too late that a side effect can be permanent alopecia. Many of them are women who were treated for breast cancer. Those cancer survivors are speaking out about what it’s like living with irreversible hair loss.
Drug-induced permanent alopecia can be avoided, as opposed to alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease, or pattern hair loss, which is genetic. Those who suffer from it are raising awareness of this risk so that other cancer patients can make informed decisions about which treatment is best for them.
At the blog A Head of Our Time, where many who have experienced this kind of hair loss have gathered for support and community and to tell their stories, they say, “Some of us are working with a dermatologist to find a cure for our disfigurement. Some are working to ensure that patients and their oncologists are fully informed of the potential side effects of Taxotere. Some want to find ways to live as a bald woman in a world that values hair as a defining part of beauty. Whatever your concerns, there is strength is knowing… and strength in numbers.”
National Alopecia Areata Foundation
A Head of Our Time