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  • Writer's pictureJoy Blenman

What is Alopecia? Alopecia FAQ

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

The other day when I was walking around the block, a little boy pointed at me and said, "Mommy, how come that girl has no hair?"

 Kids truly have NO filter; you just have to laugh sometimes. However, the truth is like that little boy; many adults have asked me questions about my hair. In this post, I'll answer some frequently asked questions about alopecia.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss. The condition occurs when white blood cells attack the cells in hair follicles, causing them to shrink and stop hair production. It is still unknown what causes the body's immune system to attack hair follicles in this way.

About 6.8 million Americans have alopecia in some way or form. The most common type of alopecia is alopecia areata. 

There are other types of alopecia: 

Androgenetic alopecia is also known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness. People with pattern baldness have receding hairlines or thin hairlines - this is a common occurrence that happens to people as they age.

Alopecia areata: People with this form of alopecia usually have circular patches of baldness. This is the most common form of alopecia. Notable people who have Alopecia areata, include Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. You can watch her inspiring video talking about her alopecia journey on the Root.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley goes public with alopecia and baldness ...
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is a badass governor who has alopecia areata.

Alopecia totalis: Alopecia totalis is a more severe form of alopecia areata characterized by total hair loss on the scalp.

Lastly, I have a rare type of alopecia called alopecia universalis. In short, it means I don't have any hair on my scalp or body. Alopecia universalis is the most serve kind of alopecia, and it affects just 1% of people with alopecia.

When did your hair fall out? 

When I was a year and a half, patches of hair started to fall out, and within a week, my hair completely disappeared. A lot of people develop other forms of alopecia, during middle age.

Child with alopecia.
Me with alopecia as a child. I have had alopecia since I was 1.

Is alopecia contagious? 

No. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease like asthma, you cannot spread it to someone else. However, some research suggests that alopecia can be genetic. To learn more about the science behind this, I recommend visiting the National Alopecia Areata Foundation website, or consulting with your family doctor.

Is alopecia caused by stress? Is that why your hair fell out?

There is little scientific evidence that alopecia is caused by stress. 

Is there a cure for alopecia? 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for alopecia. However, some people with other forms of alopecia, like alopecia areata have had success in trying different powerful anti-inflammatory drugs.

What does your head feel like? 

It is smooth AF, like a baby. 

Do you have eyebrows?

No, I have my eyebrows micro bladed by my amazing esthetician Sonia Marques. Learn more about mircroblading and my experiences with permanent makeup in my upcoming video.

Should you ask to touch a bald person's head?

This should go without saying, but absolutely DO NOT touch someone's head without their permission. I also urge you to think critically about this question: How would you feel if someone came up to you and tried to pet you? 

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