Exercise, Alopecia and Wigs – Christine

Christine has Alopecia Universalis and it’s been an emotional journey. Exercise has helped her through it and AAAF is honoured to be able to sponsor her. 

Christine received sponsorship for her exercises classes where she participated in an 8-week challenge despite being nervous about wearing a wig. 

In the process, she embraced her strength and vulnerability, got stronger (inside and out) gained community, acceptance and confidence. 

Christine, we are so proud of you and so grateful you are a part of our community. 

AAAF recognises the importance of exercise and healthy habits in the experience of alopecia and sponsors individuals like Christine to support their journey. 

Dear reader we’d love to support YOU with your healthy habits and challenges. 

Apply for a sponsorship today. 

Mental Health, Alopecia, and Meditation

Alopecia is never life-threatening or extremely physically painful, however, the psychological impacts of alopecia can be devastating.

On the less severe side of those psychological impacts are feelings of isolation, embarrassment in social situations, and guilt. Individuals with alopecia may also experience grief over the loss of their hair or socially withdraw.

On the more severe side, alopecia is associated with an increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders such as a major depressive episode, anxiety disorder, social phobia, or paranoid disorder. It impacts an individual’s sense of self and identity and can lead to personal, social, and work-related issues.

There’s no cure for alopecia or the mental health issues that can come along with it. But, in recent years, extensive research on meditation has offered some insight into the potential mental and emotional health benefits of mindfulness. 

What Is Meditation?

First documented in India between 5,000 and 3,5000 BCE, meditation has been around for thousands of years. The main benefit of a meditation practice, in terms of mental health, is developing mindfulness. That is, regular meditation results in a more mindful life.

But what is mindfulness? It’s a state of awareness in which you focus on the present moment. When you’re being mindful, you’re aware of everything happening inside and outside your body, including thoughts and physical sensations. Importantly, you’re aware of these things and you don’t pass judgement on them. You accept that they’re there and you recognize that there’s no need to change them.

Meditation is a vehicle for practicing mindfulness. Of course, it would be difficult to practice awareness of thoughts and sensations in the middle of a busy, noisy room. Meditation gives you the opportunity to tune into these subtle ques and slip into a state of awareness.

How Does Meditation Help with the Mental Health Aspects of Alopecia?

Meditation and mindfulness can relax the body and mind. But science has only just started to look into the less obvious benefits of meditation and mindfulness, including coping with pain, improving attention, and rewiring neural pathways so that we’re able to change habits and other behavioral patterns.

Practicing meditation to develop mindfulness is less about keeping your mind clear of thoughts, as is often the perception, and more about taking the power away from your thoughts and emotions. As you continually practice coming back to your breath and dismissing thoughts without judgment during a meditation, the way your brain and nervous system react in response to intrusive, anxious, self-deprecating, or depressive thoughts in real life also begins to change.

Although researchers aren’t 100% sure quite how this works, a recent study out of Yale University offers some insight. The study looked into the impact of mindfulness meditation on the default mode network (DMN) in the brain. 

The DMN is the program our brain switches to when our minds are just wandering. Having an overly active DMN is associated with unhappiness, ruminating, and worry (about both the past and the future). It’s from this mind state that we question our appearance, diminish our self-esteem, and think all of the thoughts that cause stress, anxiety, and depression

What the researchers found is that meditation can quiet the DMN. What’s more, when the mind did go into the DMN state, people who meditated regularly could take themselves out of it better than others. This may be one of the reasons why meditation is so great at reducing stress, anxiety, and depression as well as improving self-image and self-esteem – aka all the emotional and mental health issues most associated with alopecia.

Getting Started

Meditation is something that’s accessible to everyone. There are no side effects, it doesn’t cost a penny, and you can do it every day.

But how do you get started? We recommend starting small. Trying to meditate for 25 minutes at a time when you’re first beginning is going to be difficult and not achieving your goal could have you quitting before you ever get started. Instead, start with putting three to five minutes aside, and follow these instructions:

  1. Find a quiet space where you’ll be free of distraction for your entire practice.
  2. Take a seat or lay down if it’s more comfortable.
  3. Set a timer for the amount of time you’d like to meditate (beginnings shouldn’t start with any more than five minutes).
  4. Check in and make any last necessary adjustments to ensure you’re comfortable.
  5. Close your eyes, place your hands either palm up or palm down on your knees, and straighten your spine.
  6. Now, notice your breath. Notice your breath as you inhale and exhale and how your belly rises and falls with each breath.
  7. If your mind wanders or thoughts enter your head, which they inevitably will, just notice it, return to your breath, and let it pass.
  8. Don’t pass judgement on your thoughts or yourself. Don’t try to change it. Simply notice and return to your breath.
  9. When the timer is up, don’t open your eye and jump up immediately. Take time to open your eyes to the light and to come back into your environment.

Remember that meditation is a practice. That is, you develop it over time, so don’t be discouraged should your mind wander often or if you find it difficult to return to your breath. Some days will be easier than others and the important things with meditation is that you’re consistent.

Additional Resources for Your Wellbeing

Meditation is a way to practice mindfulness, and mindfulness allows us to be present with our thoughts and emotions without judgment or the need to change them. Bringing mindfulness into our lives takes power away from those thoughts and emotions and, in turn, improves the mental health of practitioners. For individuals with alopecia, this may be one incredible way to deal with anxiety, depression, social phobias, and self-esteem issues.

But there are other ways, too. Check out more support resources here.

The opinions expressed in this article are not that of AAAF, but of their Sponsorship Recipient, Sheridan Ruth. 
Sheridan received a sponsorship from AAAF for her meditation practice. You can also receive sponsorship by clicking here to learn more

Brows, Lashes, and Alopecia

Did you know there are many types of alopecia areata? Each type has a unique pattern of hair loss. You may have seen that some people with alopecia range from just a few patches to having no body hair at all. This guide will help you understand why that is and attempt to answer the common question of “how much hair will I lose?” 

If you have AA and are wondering “will I lose my eyebrows and eyelashes?” like so many things to do with AA, there’s no easy answer to this question. You could lose them very quickly, or you may not lose them. Let’s have a look at why that is in this quick guide to brows, lashes, and alopecia areata.

How Alopecia Causes Hair Loss

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. For unknown reasons, the immune system mistakenly recognizes your own body as the enemy and attacks it.  Alopecia areata -targets the hair follicles. This results in the hair follicle slowing down hair production. 

Alopecia areata typically presents as round patches of complete hair loss. These patches usually develop over a few weeks and may present as one patch or multiple patches. Alopecia areata does not lead to the inability to regrow hair. In many cases, hair loss isn’t permanent, and patches regrow over the course of several months.

However, for some individuals, alopecia areata will persist and hair may never regrow. For an even smaller percentage of people, alopecia areata will develop into other types of alopecia. Alopecia totalis involves the complete loss of hair on the scalp and Alopecia universalis involves the loss of hair on the scalp as well as the body (including eyelashes and eyebrows). 

To best understand how Alopecia Areata works across the different parts of your body, its important to  understand the phases of hair growth. The eyebrow growth cycle typically lasts about 4 months;the eyelash life cycle typically lasts 3 months; and the scalp hair’s growth cycle typically takes about 3-4 years to complete. You can read more about them here.

When Will Alopecia Affect Your Brows and Lashes?

It’s estimated that 50% of alopecia areata patients recover within 1 year of their diagnosis. On the other hand, 10% of alopecia areata patients will develop alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.

Individuals with alopecia universalis experience the loss of all their body hair. That includes the hair on the scalp, body, and face. But there’s no particular timeline for this. Hair loss in some individuals occurs suddenly, in only a few days or weeks. For others, the spread of hair loss takes significantly longer.

If you already have alopecia areata and are starting to notice hair loss on other parts of your body, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. While you may be losing hair for many reasons (such as age), if you are unsure about it, a trip to the doctor can be a good idea. 

Medication Options for Alopecia Universalis

Like alopecia areata, there is no cure for alopecia universalis. However, there are some treatments that have been effective in some individuals. When treating AA there are several medications that treat scalp hair loss that will also help with eyebrow and eyelash, however, some medications can be used to specifically target eyebrow or eyelash hair loss. For eyelashes and eyebrows specifically, you make consider the use of JAK creams for eyebrows and Latisse treating glaucoma, it can be used to grow and thicken eyelashes.

Did you know we keep a list of treatment options here? This is a general list and what medication is right for you will depend on the conversation you have with your doctor. They’ll take into consideration your age, medical history, and severity of your condition before recommending something that might work for you. 

Coping with the Loss of Brows and Lashes

Although alopecia areata doesn’t have any physical impact beyond hair loss, there’s no doubting the effect it can have on the emotional and mental wellbeing of individuals who have it. Alopecia areata can cause intense emotional distress, high levels of anxiety and depression, and personal, social, and work-related problems. 

When it comes to hair loss on the scalp, you might choose to use accessories such as hats, scarves and wigs. When it comes to brows and lashes, you also have a few options! 

Options might include 

  • No makeup/accessories 
  • Temporary tattooing 
  • Makeup (eyebrow stencils can help with this) 
  • Eyebrow wigs
  • Cosmetic eyeliner
  • Cosmetic eyebrow tattooing
  • Magnetic lashes (yes – you can use them even if you don’t have lashes). 
  • Temporary stick on eyebrow tattoos. You can view them here

A note on cosmetic eyebrow tattooing: Today’s techniques, like microblading, make it near impossible to tell the difference between real brows and tattooed ones. And because brows are so in right now, there’s also tons of makeup kits that help you create the illusion of full brows. False eyelashes can help satisfy your need for thick, curly lashes. There are professional salons that do lash extensions or you can purchase fake lashes at basically any chemist or beauty place. 

But perhaps the most important strategy for coping with the loss of lashes and brows is to find people who have similar experiences. You can read about other people’s stories here or find a local support group where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a safe and understanding space.

If you are losing your eyelashes or eyebrows, we highlight recommend watching our most popular video Alopecia Style: Eyelashes and Eyebrows (insert video below) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX4dwUG67gs

17 Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Considering Treatment for Alopecia Areata

Did you know that a large majority of individuals with alopecia areata will have some degree of hair re-growth?

This is because the cells that supply the hair follicle remain active despite experiencing balding. But you may have an even greater chance at experiencing re-growth if you decide to pursue treatment for your hair loss.

Treatment is determined by your Dermatologist and if you decide to undergo treatment for hair loss (alopecia), there are some things you’ll want to ask your GP and Dermatologist before getting started. These are important questions regarding risks and side effects, costs, and alternatives to treatment.

1. Do I Need a Blood Test?

Hair loss has a number of potential causes. It may be caused by an underlying medical condition, a vitamin and mineral deficiency, or a hormonal imbalance, or it could be alopecia areata, which is what we are here to support with. Read more about alopecia areata here.  When you go to your GP, in the first appointment you may get a blood test done to rule out these other potential causes of hair loss. Then, a dermatologist will repeat that process on the first appointment to get a baseline. This test measures common electrolytes in the blood as well as other compounds such as calcium, glucose, sodium, potassium, carbon dioxide, chloride, blood urea nitrogen, and creatinine 

Blood tests should all be covered under Medicare. 

2. Does This Follow the Australian Consensus for Treatment Plan?

Prior to this study, there were no evidence-based treatment guidelines for systemic therapy of AA. This study developed an evidence-based consensus for treatment, specifically in regard to systemic treatment. 

We recommend you take this study to your appointments and use it to help make decisions regarding when to begin treatment, how to monitor and assess treatment, and appropriate cessation of therapy.

3. What Are the Risks? Is It Safe to Fall Pregnant? 

It is important to always consult with your doctor about any potential risks in your chosen treatment. You can reduce any risks by knowing what they are and how to minimise them. 

Remember that in many cases, receiving treatment requires that you watch your lifestyle closely to ensure you’re not hindering the positive effects of treatment. Make sure to ask your doctor about any changes you should make to your diet, physical movement, and emotional condition to ensure you get the most of your treatment while reducing any potential risks. 

If you are planning on falling pregnant soon, it is best to discuss this with your doctor to ensure that the treatment plan you pursue supports you and your baby. 

4. What Are the Long-Term Side Effects?

The long-term side effects of any treatment are unique to the individual, the type of treatment they pursue, and the stage of hair loss they’re at. As such, the potential long-term side effects of any treatment are out of the scope of this blog post.

The good news is that AAAF have a wealth of this type of information on our website. Be sure to check out our treatments section for more information on various treatment options and their potential long-term effects. 

5. How long will it take to work? 

There is no cure for alopecia areata. However, there are treatments that have had positive results. Each individual case varies and there is no timeline for experiencing positive results with any form of treatment, and results will vary from individual to individual. Read about different treatment options here. 

Any regrowth can take a minimum of 6 to 12 months according to Harvard Medical School. When you understand the phases of hair growth, it is easier to understand the results. You can read more about this here. 

6. What Happens If I Don’t Do Anything?

As there is no guaranteed result for any treatment plan, you may choose not to pursue treatment at all and that’s okay too.  

There are absolutely no risks to your general health if you choose not to pursue treatment now. However, some individuals will experience psychological impacts if their hair loss continues. You should know that AAAF is here to support you through the process and connect you with many people who are living well with their hair loss.

7. What Happens If Treatment Doesn’t Work?

Ask your doctor what will happen if the proposed treatment doesn’t work. Ask how long you will wait for results before deciding it has or hasn’t worked. You should also ask if you can pursue a different course of treatment and what that might look like.

Feel comfortable asking your physician any and all of the questions you can think of until you are completely satisfied and feel supported.

8. How long will I need to be on treatment? 

Each treatment and person are unique, but you will find it is generally recommended you stay on your chosen treatment from anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Ask your doctor what is best for you. 

9.  How often will I need to see you? 

Depending on your treatment plan and unique needs, your doctor will request regular check-ups that may be monthly or every few months. These may also vary in frequency at different stages of your treatment.

10. What do I do if I get a new patch? 

If you get a new patch and are using a topical treatment, your doctor may recommend you apply the treatment to the new patch. Make sure you are kind to yourself and try not to worry if a new patch appears. 

11. Are there any natural treatments or diets that I can start?

As there is no known cause on what triggers the onset of Alopecia Areata, it is impossible to state with certainty that a change in diet or a natural treatment will help or not.  As Alopecia Areata is known to be an autoimmune disease, anything that promotes increasing the immunity can be seen as an option. 

12. What Are the Rates of Relapse and Remission?

According to this study, results have shown that  40% of people with a hair loss patch will not develop another patch of hair loss and will achieve spontaneous and complete durable remission within 6 months. An additional 27% will develop an additional patch of hair loss but will still achieve complete durable remission within one year. 33% of individuals will develop chronic alopecia areata, which is defined as alopecia areata that lasts longer than 1 year. 

The course of alopecia areata is unpredictable and your doctor will not be able to tell you where you fit into these statistics. However, it’s important to note that without systemic treatment 55% of those individuals with chronic AA will experience patches of hair loss regularly with some regrowth. 

13. What Are the Costs?

Costs will relate to the type of treatment you’re taking and how often you have to visit the doctor. Be sure to ask your doctor for the cost of your treatment & visits.

What you have to pay out of pocket to cover those costs is unique to your private health insurance, the state in which you live, and your specific needs or medications. Some medications may be covered by your private or state health insurance, whilst others may not be. The same can be said for the costs of wigs.

It is recognised that alopecia doesn’t receive the same financial support from government bodies or private foundations that other conditions, such as cancer does. It’s for this reason that we’ve put together a sponsorship program to alleviate some of the financial burden of alopecia areata treatments. Learn more about our sponsorship program here.

An example of costs might be: 

Visit to the GP for a referral and initial consultation: 

Depending on what your GP charges, if they bulk bill or whether you belong to a health co-op or have a health care card, the normal Medicare rebate is $36.30 (as of 29.4.2021). 

It is better to have a referral for specialist appointments because then you can claim a Medicare subsidy), otherwise if you do not have a referral then you don’t get that amount covered.

Initial dermatologist visit: 

Up to $300 for an initial visit according to Melbourne Skin & Dermatology.  The normal Medicare rebate is around $75.05 and you may be able to claim this on your private health insurance.   Should you wish to travel to a major city to see a dermatologist, you will need to consider your travel costs. 

Blood work: This may be bulk billed and covered by Medicare. Consult to see what Medicare covers for your unique treatment plan. 

Treatment: The cost of your treatment will depend on the treatment you pursue. Options include but are not limited to: Corticosteroids, Topical sensitizers, Minoxidil, Anthralin, Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), Immunomodulators, Trichology, Scalp Micro Pigmentation, Hair Growth Based Vitamin Products.  Some drugs, such as tofacitinib, that are used to treat AA are also used to treat other illness and disease and are on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS), you can consult the PBS here. 

Some PBS drugs have a specified condition for which you can claim the PBS subsidy price – Alopecia Areata is often not recognised. It means you have to pay the full price for that drug because it isn’t a recognised drug to treat AA by the PBS. 

14. What Other Types of Support is Out There?

Whether or not you are pursuing treatment, hair loss can have deep psychological impacts on the individuals who experience it. It’s helpful to connect with people who have gone through similar experiences. 

Ask your doctor if they have any information about support groups in your area. Or, check out these AAAF support groups to connect with others who can provide support, advice, and friendship.

15. If I wear a wig/hat will it stop the treatment working? 

No, there is no evidence to suggest that headcovers change the efficacy of any treatment. You can wear as many hats, scarves or wigs as you like! 

16. Any tips on how to manage my existing hair?

You can manage existing hair in many ways. You do not need to shave your hair when you have alopecia areata. You may choose to, but you do not have to. You get to decide what best suits you.  Some people prefer to use bandanas, hats, toppers, wigs, or to shave.

17. When new hair grows what can I expect?

Your hair may grow back the same as it was before, or it may be slightly different. There is no way to know until it does. Some people find that to start the hair grows back white before taking on a colour. You may wonder if you can colour the hair. Colouring may weaken the hair, but it doesn’t affect the hair root. If you decide to colour it is more likely to snap and not grow to full length, but it doesn’t prevent the hair from regeneration.

So, You Found a Bald Patch?

According to research, alopecia areata (AA) affects 1 in 1000 people. 

While only 2% of those individuals are at risk for developing AA for their lifetime, the experience of hair loss can be difficult, regardless of the low potential for permanence. So, if you’ve found a bald patch, it’s not uncommon to be feeling overwhelmed, confused, and lost.

A bald patch doesn’t necessarily point to AA.

Having a clear plan of action regarding what to do when you find a bald patch can provide you a sense of control when you’re feeling anything but. Before you start thinking up the worst case scenario, take a breath, and follow these 7 steps.

1. Stay Calm

There are many things that could be causing your hair loss. Hair loss may be the result of:

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy, after childbirth, as a result of menopause, or due to thyroid problems.
  • Medical conditions such as a scalp infections, ringworm, or other disease for example Lupus 
  • Side effects from medications or supplements.
  • A very stressful or traumatic event.
  • Hairstyles and hair treatments.

Considering the abundance of reasons that could be behind your bald patch, there’s no need to jump to the worst case scenario and get yourself stressed, worried, and anxious. Stay calm, find a breathing exercise, and move on to step 2.

Step 2: Make an Appointment With Your GP

The first call you should make after finding a bald patch is to your GP, they can help you get to a specialist so you can find your answers. 

Being armed with information that you take to your GP, can eliminate many of the factors in Step 1. Having a blood test will not give a diagnosis of AA, but it can rule out other conditions like hormone imbalances, an overactive or inactive thyroid or lupus. You can then take this information to the dermatologist. 

Step 3: Make an Appointment With Your Dermatologist

A dermatologist is generally considered the best specialist for diagnosing and providing treatment for AA. Your GP can make recommendations as to dermatologists in your area and provide the necessary referral for making your appointment.

Make sure that you’re comfortable with the dermatologist after your first appointment. Finding a bald patch can cause emotional and psychological upheaval and you want to be sure that your doctor is someone you trust and feel comfortable speaking to and working with. 

If you don’t feel like you can have that kind of relationship after your first visit, keep looking. You can use this search tool provided by The Australian College of Dermatologists to find dermatologists in your area.

4. Consider These Simple Ways to Help You Cope

You might be waiting some time to see a dermatologist. That could be weeks or even months without a diagnosis or answer. In the meantime, you might consider finding small ways to help you cope with your discovery.

Depending on where your bald patch is, and how you feel about it, you might consider hats, scarves or alternative hair. It is totally up to you! 

Seek independent counselling from a professional may help to create more positive self-esteem, leading to a lower level of stress and anxiety.

Accept the journey of mixed feelings- it’s okay to have a bad day.

This is also a good point to initiate self-care habits, such as yoga, meditation, a gratitude practice, or a commitment to spend more time outdoors. Taking time for yourself to practice self-love and self-care will help you move through this experience with grace and confidence.

5. Consider Seeking Support

The relationship you have with your dermatologist and GP does not provide all the emotional support you need. It might be comforting to speak with people who have had similar experiences. This is where support groups come in.

A support group bridges the gap between your treatment and your need for emotional support. It’s where you can meet and share with people experiencing the same emotions as you are. Here, you can find strength in other’s experiences, learn about coping strategies, and receive first-hand information  from others who possibly asked the same questions at the start of their journey.

Understand that you will have the need to search for a meaning.

Find the online Alopecia Support Group for your state and request to join. These online groups are 100% private and they’re filled with AA individuals as well as their families. These safe spaces give you a place to ask questions and find individuals to share with. You may also feel self-empowerment by helping others with their AA journey.

6. Register and Research With AAAF

If you’re not already registered with AAAF, then you should take the time to do so. Registration takes no more than a few minutes and it gives you access to new events, research, and programs that you might be interested in. You can register with AAAF here.

Plus, AAAF has a wealth of information, studies and stories on the blog and website that could really help you. Have a click around and have a look! We even have a youtube channel with even more information. 

7. Purchase a No Hair We Care Pack

The AAAF created the No Hair We Care Program (NHWC) that delivers care packages to people with any form of AA. The package contains headwear, skincare, DVDs, books, makeup, jewellery, games, and more. They come in a range of options, including packages designed for males or females with different colour options (simple and classic or bright and bold). You’ll also find a wealth of information and resources to support you through this time.

Each NHWC package has over $100 worth of items and sells for only $15 (+GST). They can be purchased on the AAAF e-store and the shipping is covered regardless of where in Australia you live.

Additional Resources

If you’ve found a bald patch, there’s no need to panic. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and follow steps 1 through 7. After going through these steps and adopting their recommendations, you should find yourself in a calmer and more informed place from which to make decisions and move forward.

To inform yourself further, be sure to check out the research we support

Where to Find Financial Support for Wigs in Australia

When hair loss occurs, we know it can impact your self-esteem, self-image, and confidence.

One of the most common ways of combatting the physical, emotional, and mental impact of alopecia areata is to purchase a wig. By giving the outward appearance of a full head of hair, they can boost confidence, help avoid awkward questions, and even protect the skin from the elements.

But wigs in Australia are costly. They can cost anywhere from $80 to thousands of dollars, plus the additional 10% goods and services tax (which can add up to quite a bit depending on the cost of the wig). Depending on how well they’re taken care of, a wig can last as little as 5 months to as long as 5 years, but eventually, they need to be replaced.

Those costs mean that there’s a great segment of the alopecia areata community that cannot access this potentially life-changing medical device. With all of the challenges individual’s with alopecia areata already face, paying for a wig shouldn’t be one of them. The good news is, there is financial support available.

Tax Rebates and Subsidies

For adults requiring a wig, there are government-sponsored programs that can help you cover the costs in the form of rebates and subsidies.

Most individuals will qualify for a tax rebate on their wig under the Taxation Ruling TR93/34. Section 159P of this ruling allows for tax rebates on net medical expenses. Those expenses include the cost of medical or surgical appliances that are prescribed by a qualified medical professional, such as a medical or surgical wig. Individuals are entitled to a rebate for net medical expenses that exceed $1,000.

There are also a number of state subsidies available, depending on the state in which you live:

  • New South Wales (NSW) offers eligible candidates assistive technology like wigs through the Enable NSW program. 
  • Victoria (VIC) provides subsidized aids and equipment through the State-Wide Equipment Program (SWEP).
  • Tasmania (TAS) has financial assistance available for patients of alopecia who have a DHA Pensioner Concession Card or DHA Health Care Card and are referred by a doctor.
  • South Australia (SA) supplies wigs or contributes toward the purchase of wigs for eligible clients under the Department for Families and Communities (DFC) Equipment Program.

Each of these programs has their own eligibility requirements, often depending on what kind of wig you’re looking for and your financial situation. Program requirements and benefits will differ from state to state, and Western Australia (WA), Queensland (QLD), Northern Territory (NT), and Australia Capital Territory (ACT) don’t provide any such service.

Private Health Insurance

If you have a Health Fund provider, you may be eligible for assistance through your extra coverage.  The provisions under an extra coverage policy may allow the policy holder to file an insurance claim to cover the full or partial cost of a cranial prothesis. Typically, this only applies to individuals who have lost their hair due to medical reasons such as chemotherapy, trichotillomania, or alopecia.

While some health insurance policies require the policy holder to pay for their prothesis and then reimburse them, others will provide you with the money prior to your purchase. The availability of this form of financial assistance varies according to provider, so you’ll have to check with your Health Fund to find out if you can make a claim. Look for a list of Health Fund providers on the Private Health Insurance Ombudsmen’s website.

Financial Support for Children

Wigs for kids grant

Alopecia often presents itself in childhood. When it presents during this important period of self-discovery and socialization, it can cause confusion, fear, and a sense of isolation from peers. This is why ensuring children with alopecia can access wigs is incredibly important work.

There are a number of grant programs that children with alopecia may be eligible for. For example, the AAAF’s Wigs for Kids grant program is available to children under the age of 17 who have alopecia areata.  On top of financial assistance, this program provides all of the information, service, and support that any child who wishes to wear a wig could possibly need.

Low Cost Wigs

In addition to the financial support options listed above, there are also a number of places to find low cost wigs that are more affordable. 

In keeping with their commitment to improve the lives of people with alopecia areata, the AAAF offers a range of synthetic wigs and they keep the cost of these wigs exceedingly low. Indeed, they’re usually sold for well below cost price and they even offer free shipping. Eligible candidates can use these when they’re new to the world of wigs and looking to try some options that are right for them.

Individual wig suppliers all have their own approach when it comes to discounts and payments, but it’s not unheard of to find a wig provider who is willing to arrange a payment plan. There are also a number of wig suppliers that participate in a voucher program approved by the Public Hospital System. You can talk to a nurse or doctor to find out if your hospital has vouchers and check online to see what suppliers in your area qualify. 

More Help with Wigs

A beautiful wig can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, putting them out of reach for a significant portion of the alopecia community. But there is financial support available, if you just know where to look. Consider applying for tax rebates, state subsidies, and grant programs, or looking for low cost wigs to offset the financial burden that wigs can represent.

And for more information and help with wigs, be sure to check out the AAAF wig resources page.

Wigs 101

Have you been wondering how to choose the best wig for you? Do you need to know how to care for your new, beautiful wig? Not sure which type or style of wig is best for you? Are you wondering if you will be able to do all your favorite hairstyles in your new wig? You might be thinking “can you put a wig up in a ponytail?” or, “can I wear my glasses with my wig?”

Wigs can be a very valuable tool in managing our alopecia journey. But choosing the right wig, learning how to care for it and style it, and understanding how a wig will fit into your lifestyle can make this process difficult. 

We’ve created this series of videos to address some of these issues, and hopefully, give you the tools to find the best option for you. Check out these videos, and if you have questions, let us know in the comments!

Alopecia and the New School Year

Happy new year! A new school year is just around the corner. Many families will be prepping for the usual concerns – being sure to have the right books, enough pens, and shoes sturdy enough to (hopefully) make it through the whole year.

For families living with alopecia, the new school year can have some extra considerations. Whether you’ve had alopecia for years, or have experienced hair loss over the holidays; whether you’re heading into a new year at the same school or have made a big transition, we hope this article can be a helpful guide. The new school year doesn’t have to be stressful, and there is a lot you can do to set up for a good term.

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Wigs – Where to start?

Choosing the right wig for you is a very personal decision. If you’ve never shopped for wigs before, it can also be overwhelming or stressful. But it doesn’t need to be. This guide is here to help you understand your options before you get stared.

Questions to Consider

Which wig will be best for you depends on your lifestyle and your preferences. We recommend doing some research and deciding what your priorities are before you get started. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What’s your budget? Costs of wigs can be very varied.
  • How soon do you want or need your new wig? Custom wigs are made to order, and therefore take more time to make. Some can take well over a year, so understand what to expect and what you need.
  • Do you need your hairpiece to stay on during sport or physical activity?
  • Do you want one style that you stick with for a long time, or would you rather mix and match your look?
  • Are you able to take care of the hairpiece? Kids are especially prone to bring rough on their wigs, which can shorten the lifespan of the wig. Factor this into your budgetary decisions.
  • Do you want to sleep in your wig? Sleeping in wigs can shorten their lifespan, so it’s not usually recommend. If you feel you need to sleep in a wig, be aware that it may need replacing much sooner, and factor that replacement cost into your budget.
  • Is it really hot or humid where you live? Some styles of wig breathe more than others, and shorter hair styles can feel lighter on your neck.
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Art and Alopecia

Creative practices like art, music, writing and dance have long been known to help support mental health. Arts therapy is a recognized practice with many potential benefits, known to help with communication, self-image, personal development and coping skills.

Throughout the challenges 2020, we’ve seen how arts and creative practices have been very helpful for individuals and families. A range of creative practices have seen a swell in popularity, from mindful colouring, paint-by-numbers for adults and learning viral online dances. Art, dance and music can be great learning tools for young kids and an opportunity for self-expression or exploring emotions for teens and adults.

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