This is a post I thought about a lot of times before deciding to share it on my blog. But then, I made this blog to share my ups and downs in my travel, financial journey, and everyday life. This is definitely one of my downs this year and this deserves to be an open topic to the worldwide web.
In our culture which associates hair to beauty, losing it would be very embarrassing and unacceptable. That is why a lot of people with this disease tend to keep quiet about it.
In the contrary, there is also an increasing number of women who share their stories around the world through their blogs and videos. I want to be one of them so here is my own story of alopecia.
What is alopecia?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder when your own immune system attacks your own hair follicles. This then leads to hair loss. There are several types of alopecia. What I have and is a very common type is the “Alopecia Areata”. This type causes patchy hair loss and can result in a single bald patch or extensive patchy hair loss.
Causes of alopecia include genetics, an autoimmune disorder, stress, environment, and allergies. For my case, I can’t really identify the cause but my doctor insisted it’s caused by an allergy. I believe my genes have something to do with it too. My father has alopecia but it only presented when he was older not on his 20’s like me.
Approximately 147 million worldwide have or will develop Alopecia Areata at some point in their lives. Well, it does feel a little comforting knowing that I am not the only one having this disease. Understanding this, I became very observant of the people’s hair everywhere I go and I found out that indeed I am not alone in this world with alopecia. But again, these people I’ve seen are aged 40 years- up.
How did you know you have alopecia?
The first symptom I had seen was the unusual falling of my hair when I was taking a shower or when combing my hair. I would normally get hair fall of fewer than 15 strands doing these activities but this time, 30-50 strands of my hair are falling off. I also noticed that my hair has gotten thin. I tell you I have thick hair. That’s what people always observed from me. So, I got curious as to why it was happening. Though, I just ignored these symptoms for a few weeks and thought it’s just normal until I saw the worst symptom ever, a bald spot on my head. It was a size of a coin and was getting bigger.
The first time I noticed the bald spot on my head.
My first reaction was fear after seeing the spot. I did know instantly it’s alopecia from my nursing background but it still felt unreal to be seeing myself having it. I did check online for other symptoms of a more serious disease because alopecia can just be a symptom of another illness. Luckily, I didn’t have other symptoms so I concluded that it’s alopecia.
How it affected you?
At first, I thought of not seeking medical help for I know that the hair will grow back eventually. Well, actually it may or may not grow back and there is no single treatment for it. But, I was positive it will because I am young and healthy.
However, seeing my hair fall almost every minute was very depressing. I have hair everywhere in my apartment or everywhere I stay; on the floor, in the bed, in the bathroom. My self-confidence went down and I think about it every day made me really sad. I would be okay with it if I am 60 years old but not on my twenty’s. I considered the fact that my job entails me talking to people and I am afraid that they might see my bald or thin hair. In the end, I decided to seek help.
What is your treatment plan?
I found a private clinic where I live in Thonburi area. I was diagnosed by the doctor with Alopecia Areata. He explained what it is, basically things that I already knew.
For my treatment, he suggested this plan.
– 4 injection sessions to my bald area to block my immune system from further attacking my hair- The interval was every two weeks but the 4th will be after a month
– Oral Medications which consist of multi vitamins such as iron and zinc for possible iron deficiency problem. Other pills were for hair growth.
– Hair spray for fast hair growth
– Topical medication- I have to apply to the bald spot twice a day for hair growth
– Anti-dandruff shampoos- I had a long problem of dandruff since I came to Thailand. I tried all the cosmetic shampoos available in the stores but nothing really worked for me except these shampoos prescribed by my doctor. I am truly happy about this.
Costs of the treatment
Here’s the summary of my expenses for my alopecia treatment:
Injections/ sessions – 2, 100 Baht
Oral Medications – 3, 850 Baht
Hair Sprays – 1,500 Baht
Moisturizing Cream – 300 Baht
Anti-Dandruff Shampoos – 700 Baht
I already had 5 sessions of injections so it will be 2,100 x 5 = 10, 500 Baht. When I thought I won’t be having another injection, the doctor said my hair is only 80% improved so in my case, I have to get the 5th injection.
This month is my 4th month for oral medication. It costs 3, 850 x 4 = 15, 400 Baht.
I also bought all the rest of the products which cost 2, 500 Baht. For now, I spent a total of more or less 30,000 Baht.
This disease is very costly I tell you. I am a very frugal person but since it’s about my health, I really have no other choice. What I didn’t like about my treatment are the injections. In every session, the doctor has to inject me with 4-5 syringes and poke my scalp. It stings and hurt so much.
As I am writing this, I am not done with all my treatments as I have to go back after a month to check for the growth and improvement of my hair and scalp. I hope it will be 100% so I won’t have any more injections. I can’t wait to stop taking all the medications as well. I don’t like the feeling of having a lot of drugs in my body. It feels weird like you are not in total control of your body. I hate that feeling.
Side Effects of the treatment
I will start by saying that I shaved my mustache. Yes! You read it right, I did just this month. I have hair all over my body now. I can see hair growing in the part of my forehead, back, and legs. Ha! Even inside my nose. Last month, I noticed that my inside my nose gets kind of itchy. Then, I realized about my hair so I bought this tiny scissors to trim my hair under the nose. These are the effects of the hair growth medications that I am taking as it affects all the hair in my body.
I can’t really confirm if my weight gain is another side effect. I brought it up to my doctor but he just told me it’s because I eat a lot and not about the drugs. Ahah!
I can feel things that I can’t really explain I know is happening inside my body. That is why I really can’t wait to be off of these drugs. I hope my hair will be fine in the coming months so it will be over.
The sad fact is that there is a chance of recurrence in the future as treatment of alopecia totally differs from everyone. Some treatments work with some people but it might not work with others.
I hope this brought light to those who are also suffering from alopecia. And if you had this, please share how it was treated as I am also looking for other cheaper options available in Thailand. I am thankful for my doctor but because it’s a private practice, it is really expensive. I want to know if there is a cheaper treatment that I can avail.
So that’s it! I wrote it and shared it, guys! I will end this post by saying that you should be blessed to be healthy with no medical problems in your life. Please take care of your self by eating right and exercising regularly.
What do you think about Alopecia?
Do you know of any other treatments available for the treatment of Alopecia?