Friday, 21 August 2015

C is for... A-Z of hairloss

I know it's been a while since my last A-Z of hairloss, but it's finally time for the letter 'C'...

Calendar: I can't let the letter 'C' go past without a little mention and plug for our 2015 calendar - great awareness and working to change opinions. Read more at 

Calm: in the early days, feelings of bring 'calm' seemed few and far between and I was in a semi-agitated state most of the time. Difficult as it will be, try your best to stay calm for two reasons; first, it helps you think more rationally and second, in things some cases e.g. Alopecia, feelings of stress can exacerbate the issue.

Cancer: Possibly the most obvious one when it comes to hairloss is cancer. Whilst the disease itself does not affect the growth of the hair, treatment in the form of chemotherapy causes partial or total hairloss. As treatments improve however, the rate and finality of hairloss is diminishing and there is hope that in the future, the hair won't be affected at all. Fingers crossed!

Caps / Coverings: other words for Bandanas as covered in our 'B' post, caps and coverings can be a great go-to for keeping things hidden. Even if you are used to your hairloss and are happy to expose it, caps and coverings are a great way of keeping toasty warm, accessorising and outfit or keeping the sun off your head!

Caring: if you let them, in my experience people will be really caring about you and your hairloss. A mistake I frequently made was feeling guilty about being upset and so I kept shutting people out and bottling it up which wasn't good for me, or for those around me! People will be caring, you just have to decide to let them! 

Cause: fairly self-explanatory this one, but cause is a huge factor in any hairloss experience! I remember thinking 'but I don't understand what causes it!' A large part of your experience will centre on causes and of course then the cure. What you may have to accept is that the cause may be unclear - they can give you a label e.g. Alopecia Areata or Trichotillomania, but that doesn't necessarily mean the 'cause' will be clear. 

Challenge: Losing my hair was probably the single biggest challenge I have ever had to face, but on the plus side it's a challenge that I won! Now I am working to challenge perceptions and help others beat that challenge!

Changes: Inevitably, if you are losing your hair - via whatever means - then you will be going through some changes. From physical changes to your appearance to changes to your general health and wellbeing, to adjustments in your emotional and mental state, changes are inevitable. It is definitely worth highlighting here that not all changes are for the worse - I and many others I know have had positives come out of their hairloss and definite changes for the better! 

Charity: If you are having difficulty handling your hairloss, seek out a Charity. National charities exist to support sufferers for example Alopecia UK, Macmillan etc. who can provide advice and support and signpost to experts to give you the help you need. They also appreciate people fundraising for them if you get a chance! 😉

Cheated: This was a huge 'problem' for me and many others I know. As your hair falls out and you struggle to deal with it, many people highlight how they feel 'cheated' by their body and struggle not to feel angry with themselves. The good news is that this feeling passes and hopefully will be a temporary status rather than a permanent reality! 

Chemotherapy: one of the most common treatments for cancer, chemotherapy uses chemicals to permanently damage cancerous cells so that they can't reproduce. Unfortunately, side-effects include damage to other healthy tissues, including hair follicles, resulting in hairloss.

Children: Children is included for two reasons:

First, people often fear telling or showing children their hairloss, more so than showing an adult. Children are known for getting to the heart of things, saying it like it is and not censoring what comes out of their mouths. Somehow, that makes them scarier than adults, somehow increasing the likelihood that our fears we are less attractive, less valuable or something else entirely. We hope that their adult counterparts will be less honest and better at hiding negative feelings, leaving us intact. I can't speak about all children, but you can read about one of my experiences here...

Second, whilst hairloss is terrifying and somewhat devastating at every stage of life, but somehow, despite their resilience, it seems ten times worse when a child goes through it. It breaks my heart every time I see it, but I admire there general acceptance of it too!

Cicatricial Alopecia: the scientific name for scarring Alopecia, it includes traction Alopecia and Alopecia from any scarring. 

Cold-Cap / Scalp-Cooling / Cryotherapy: a relatively new treatment, the cold-cap is one of the aforementioned ways do reducing the likelihood of total hairloss from the scalp. It involves the patient encasing their scalp in a cooling ice-pack, reducing the size of the blood vessels and therefore the amount of chemotherapy drugs which reach the hair follicles. As a result, less hair falls out and many cancer patients are managing to keep large amounts of hair. The downsides are that it doesn't work with all chemotherapy drugs and it only works where applied, so eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair will still shed. Macmillan has more details on it here...

Comments: when you are bald or balding, comments can be expected and often unappreciated. From stating the obvious to striking up a conversation, to frankly being downright hurtful, there's not a baldie I know who has been completely without commentary! There's not much to say here - it's on a case by case basis and you'll have to handle it as best you can when it happens. Not everything will be bad though; just remember that!

Confidence: I'd love to say hairloss has no significant effects, but it's likely that it will impact your confidence in some way. It could be a little or a lot depending on your personality, support network, attitude and general attachment to your hair. You need to accept that this will happen; you are not weak, worthless, shallow or anything else negative you might think about yourself - it is completely understandable and acceptable. Work through this, deal with it your way and try to remember not to let your hairloss beat you - don't let it change who you are or what you do. I really and truly appreciate this is easier said than done, however it's something I worked hard at and now if anything, I am more, not less confident than I was before!

Corticosteroids: more commonly referred to as steroids, corticosteroids are often used in the treatment of a number of hairloss and / or auto-immune conditions. They can be taken orally, injected or applied as a topical cream or lotion and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are used to help suppress the immuno-response, thereby enabling short-term and sometimes permanent regrowth.

Cure: A natural progression from 'cause', cures are one of the primary things that people pursue, providing a focus for anxiety, mental challenges or even an end point. Cures are a good thing to understand and appreciate, but pursue with caution; sometimes the side-effects can be as bad or worse than the hairloss and many have limited or questionable results. Pursuit of them can also become an obsession so take care that this doesn't become more damaging to your psyche. Sit down with a trained expert  question what they tell you so you fully understand the implications, then give yourself time to consider everything - is it really what you want? 

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

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