Alopecia Areata, photo essay by Iman Ghoshal
It was middle of 2012 when I first noticed something was very ‘wrong’ with me. I can clearly remember one incident; it was the month of July and I was returning home in the evening; sitting in an autorikshaw. As I sat beside the window, wind pulled my hair upon my face. I moved my fingers through my scalp and my fingers came out with a clump of hair. There was no pull, no pain. The hair came off just like that. All of a sudden I had a ball of hair in my hand and a round bald patch on my scalp. The story starts form here. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata after few days of this incident.
This is a type of hair loss that occurs when one’s immune system mistakenly attacks (Auto-immune disease) hair follicles, resulting in totally smooth, round hairless patches on the scalp. Sometimes extensive patchy loss occurs, and in a few months, all scalp hair is lost (referred to as alopecia totalis) or, hair is lost from the entire scalp and body (referred to as alopecia universalis). It’s not yet perfectly understood what causes the disease; though there are some subliminal causes such as stress, vaccination, pregnancy, environmental changes, long-term illness, genetic tendencies, which can trigger ALOPECIA AREATA. It is a highly unpredictable disease. Lost hair can grow back or fall out again at any time. If the hair grows back, it may occur even without any treatment and even after many years. No matter how widespread the hair loss, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal.
Alopecia occurs in males and females of all ages and races, but onset most often occurs in childhood. Over 147 million people worldwide have or will develop alopecia areata at some point in their lives. This is a tabooed issue. Patients suffering from this auto immune condition are stigmatized, isolated, made fun of in our society. some even consider this a sin. Alopecia Areata patients go through severe depression. some even commit suicide. There is a lack of knowledge about this disease in our society. I’ve faced my share of humiliation, insult, isolation. I want to share my story so that I can reach out to many who don’t know what this disease is or is unaware of its existence. (by Iman Ghoshal)