Hi, my name is Isabella Hoult, I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 10 years old. My mum and my brother both have Alopecia as well. I am 13 years old and am a competitive gymnast. I am currently doing level 4 Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. The Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation is sponsoring me to do my gymnastics which is amazing.
I first started losing my hair just before the lockdown in 2020. I have had many patches come and go since then but at one stage I had almost complete hair loss on my head. Whilst this was hard, having my mum and brother going through Alopecia as well helped me to stay strong. I started high school this year, year 7, and that was tough with Alopecia too, but I asked my year leader if I could speak to the whole year about what Alopecia is and what it is like to look different. She said yes and because I spoke so well they then arranged for me to speak to the entire senior school which really helped with how people treated me at school. They no longer thought I was sick and knew what Alopecia was.
At Gymnastics I am in a squad and we sat down with my coach and squad talking about what it is like to look different and how sometimes we don’t realise the things we say can hurt others.
This year I qualified for the State Gymnastics Competition which was amazing, and then I competed at State where I achieved some personal best scores and had a great time competing. My favourite thing about Gymnastics is competing, I love being on that floor and performing my routines as well as knowing if there is anyone watching that has something that makes them look different I hope they look at me and think “wow she is out there with her patches competing and not letting her Alopecia stop her”. I want other kids and people to know that Alopecia shouldn’t stop you from doing anything, we are just the same as everyone else and can do everything that everyone else can.
I am so excited to see where Gymnastics takes me next and look forward to sharing my exciting achievements with you in my next update.
Meet Claudia, she is 11 years old and started losing her hair at the beginning of 2022 at age 10. The hair loss started above her right ear. More patches started appearing around the back of her head from ear to ear. Within 6 months Claudia had lost all her hair followed by her eyebrows and eyelashes.
This time was very traumatic for Claudia and her family, something that was so aggressive and coming from nowhere really hit the family hard. She started seeing a psychologist straight away and this largely assisted with her coping strategies. Throughout the whole ordeal, Claudia has remained extremely positive and resilient. She has the most amazing group of school friends, family and a cheerleading team.
During her hair loss journey, Claudia has maintained doing what she loves the most and that is cheerleading. At first, she just wore a beanie as her hair was falling out however progressed to wearing a wig. Her cheerleading team and coach were so supportive during her hair loss, they always made her feel very comfortable and some of them even wore a beanie in support.
Claudia is a flyer which is the person at the top of the stunts who gets lifted by the team, she has managed with her current lace wig however sometimes feels like it might come off. This makes her a little nervous so we have ordered her a Freedom Wig which will suction-fixate to her head. This will enable her to do all the cartwheels, back handsprings and tumbling whilst feeling totally confident it won’t fly off. She should have the new wig by the end of the year ready for a big year of cheerleading and competition in 2023.
The unexpected financial strain that the disorder has come with has been a bit of a shock with Dermatologist & Psychologist appointments, medication, wigs & accessories. The Silver sponsorship that has been generously given by the Australian Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) has given Claudia relief and has enabled her to continue doing a sport that she loves so much. This is instrumental to her coping with the disorder and adjusting to her new way of life.
After 9 months of my gold sponsorship, the development in my performance skills has been significant. Over the last 3 months, I have had the privilege of performing in my Stage 2 dance showcase and participating in the Adelaide Christmas Pageant. Within the leadup to my dance showcase, I raised awareness for alopecia by promoting the differences between my hair routines with and without the wig, and the complexities of coordinating a wig for a dance performance without gel and/or hairspray.
After the showcase, I was keen to begin working on pageant routines. The Adelaide Christmas Pageant is the largest Christmas pageant in the southern hemisphere, and it was amazing to participate in the 90th-year celebration. In the pageant, I danced without my wig and covered my remaining bald patch and regrowth with purple hair glitter.
Within the next 3 months, I’ll have my dance studio concert weekend in which I have 7 concerts over the duration of the weekend. Lots of hard work has gone into this concert preparation, but it has truly paid off.
Through dance, I have been able to experiment with an array of hairstyles with and without my wig which has significantly boosted my confidence. Since my complete hair loss in August last year, I have struggled with accepting my new hair growth and loss. As my hair grew back it became darker and curlier which was a direct contrast to my original straight blond hair.
Whilst I am forever grateful that my hair has regrown, the change became difficult to manage, making me self-conscious about my hair growth. Over the last three months, I have been working with Travis Hairdressing to find a new style for my regrowth that I feel comfortable in. Whilst these last three months have been difficult due to injuries and not being able to dance as much, I have found a way to become more present and accepting of myself.
I am forever grateful for my gold sponsorship and the opportunities it has provided me with. I have had the privilege over the last 9 months to work with an amazing group of dancers who have accepted me and my alopecia, and are always there to support me when needed.
It all started when I was 17 and I had a few major life events all happen to me within a short amount of time. I was in year 12, my grandfather passed away, I contracted glandular fever and I found out then my boyfriend had cheated on me. It was a stressful time, to say the least!
I noticed a huge patch of hair at the nape of my neck missing, I was in so much shock and I had no idea what it was. I was diagnosed the next day with alopecia areata. From then until the start of 2020 the patches were tiny and manageable with steroid injections that were uncomfortable but bearable once or twice per year.
During the 2 years of lockdown, my alopecia became the worst it’s ever been. On the sides of my head had formed 2 huge patches and since then we have been trying to manage.
I’m now on prednisolone and minoxidil. I found the foundation as I felt so alone and isolated. I felt as though no one understood and if they did, as it wasn’t noticeable, it wasn’t a “big deal”. However, to me, it was a big deal and kept me up and night.
I know this treatment can keep it all under control.
Hello, my name is Ava. I am 11 years old and from the Gold Coast. In 2020 I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. I felt scared and lonely. I went through several treatments like Clobex which is a type of shampoo. In my thoughts, it did not do anything but make it worse by tangling my hair so when I brushed it pulled more out. I then started another treatment called DCP which is a cream that stops my immune system from attacking my hair. The treatment seemed to work and my hair regrew.
I went to an Alopecia support group lunch at Harbour Town Shopping Centre and met some really nice people with Alopecia. I felt supported and like I wasn’t alone anymore.
I decided I wanted to raise money for the AAAF. I made a lemonade stand at my house and my Mum made a Facebook Go Fund Me page. I raised around $1200 which was mind-blowing.
I went to the Alopecia Camp on the Sunshine Coast in 2021. I met so many new girls and boys with my condition. I felt happy and uplifted when I made new friends and it was just the time of my life, I didn’t feel alone anymore and I was able to be myself.
After I thought the Alopecia was all gone it came back again this year. I began to lose hair again, most of my eyelashes on my left and some of my eyebrows. I felt insecure and heartbroken. I have tried the DCP cream again and had no luck so far, the doctors put stronger ingredients in the cream to stop it. I also have low iron; it does not help with my daily life as I struggle in class to stay awake and it is difficult to do everyday tasks. Low iron also makes your hair weak and it falls out a bit.
Since I have had Alopecia, I have been bullied on a few occasions. I was asked all the time what had happened to me or if I had cancer. There was this boy who was just nasty to everyone except to his friends.
I believe that there are always bullies in our lives no matter if we’re tall, small, thin, wide, pretty or ugly.
I am so excited about this upcoming camp in Sydney, I can’t wait to catch a flight with all of my new friends and hang out again. The only bad thing is I have to wake up at like 4:00am which sucks because I am not a morning person.
I recently started Silks; it was like a dream come true watching all of the older girls do cool tricks. I am so grateful that the AAAF is helping me with my dream by sponsoring me. It’s just so kind of you and I will strive to do my best and show you my progress.
I would like to thank the AAAF for my gold scholarship! This scholarship has paid for my dance classes which are tap, musical theatre and contemporary dance private lessons. Thanks to these, I have improved so much that two months ago I was asked to join the performance team, which means I can now compete in different tournaments starting in August. I got an email last week from the dance studio saying that all the Teachers are so impressed with my dedication and improvement, so I had been selected for the Elite team. This is a dream come true!
At the midyear dance concert, I performed solo on stage. I had never danced by myself before on stage, but I absolutely loved it! When I am on stage, I can forget about everything, dancing is my happy place.
My favourite days of the week are the days I have dancing in the afternoon. A few years ago, when I lost all my hair during the lockdown, I wouldn’t even go to the mailbox as I didn’t want people to see me and I was so upset, but now, I dance without a wig. I even like that I don’t have to worry about hair getting into my face when dancing.
I am proud of who I am, and my confidence has grown so much through dancing. I can’t thank the AAAF enough!
I’m delighted to share with everyone here that I was selected for a music education sponsorship through AAAF’s 2022 sponsorship program, and I couldn’t be more excited about the incredible opportunity. I am so grateful to AAAF and this community for supporting me on my alopecia journey and wanted to share more about my past, present and personal ambitions for the future – look out for 4th brother!
I think my alopecia story actually started when I was much younger than when I was first diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, which didn’t happen until the age of 27. At an earlier time in my life, it was never noticeable to me, or anyone else as I recall, as I was an especially cool 90’s pre-teen with a fashionably long-ish middle parting haircut at the time – yo! When I did have hair on my head, I had thick hair, like my Mum’s I always said, but I do remember a moment one day as a kid, just kind of playing with my hair, and noticing that, as I did, it was coming out in my hands. I remember thinking, “that’s weird, let me do that again and see if more comes out”, and it did, so I promptly stopped, thinking I might just lose it all if I didn’t! I didn’t even tell my parents, brothers or friends about it, it was just something that happened and then I completely forgot about it.
That earlier experience did return however, at 27 as I mentioned earlier, and at a time that was easy for me to associate to memory, as my wife Laura and I were excitedly expecting our first child, our daughter Carmen. After noticing the classic signs of Alopecia Areata, small, Scottish 50 pence piece sized patches, I took myself off to the GP and was duly diagnosed with AA. It was very much a “do you have any stress going on in your life at present?”, line of investigation, something I think I could always answer yes to, but I was, am, a relatively laid-back individual, and wouldn’t have suggested anything significant as a known source of concern. Anyway, I was given a treatment of steroid lotion to massage into my scalp and sent on my merry way to see if it helped.
Whether it was the lotion or the excitement of being a new father for the first time I did experience regrowth. Great, I thought! Until… yeah, Laura pregnant again, our beautiful son Donnie this time, and all the signs of progressive AA hair loss all over again. I personally put it down to coincidence, but whatever it was, this time it wasn’t showing any signs of recovery, not over weeks, months or even years, and I decided that I just had to live with it. That was probably the first time that having AA was on my mind, and where I was conscious of its effect on my appearance, even though it was no more than about 10% to 15% of my hair back then. Every trip to the barbers involved an explanation and a lot of people had an opinion on it. Looking back, I’m actually amazed at how few people actually understood the condition.
Fast forward to a new life in Australia for us all, and at 40 things really took a turn. I really depended on the AAAF community, as I was losing hair FAST, and EVERYWHERE. My AA progressed to Universalis and I honestly didn’t know what to do or how to deal with it. It was emotionally draining, I remember that. I was anxious and fearful about the state of my general health at that time. I was waking up with piles of hair on my pillow, showering and handfuls of hair coming out in my hands. I was open to trying anything and spent months in treatment for steroid injections in my scalp, as that was a priority for me if anything could be done. I remember experiencing minor benefits in one area, only to be losing hair in another, it was very difficult. I was never a hairy man, but eyebrows, eye lashes, face, under arms, arms, legs all lost hair and you can’t prepare for that happening or the emotional and psychological impact of that.
I braved the shave. I took myself to the barbers the first time I decided to do it. The guys there were great! We started on a gauge 4, then a 3, a 2, 1 and even zero. I still wasn’t satisfied and said, “can you just use a razor?” I got the cleanest shave I’d ever had in my life – and it felt amazing, different, but amazing! I quickly realised this was something I’d need to master at home and have been shaving daily ever since – you see I still have little patches of facial and head hair.
It was tough, but with the love and support of family, friends and great communities like AAAF, I was able to get through it, and I now spend every opportunity I’m presented with helping less aware people understand alopecia better. Keeping my mind on family, health, happiness, work and fun is a great distraction from alopecia and that’s where the sponsorship comes in. I’m an aspiring creative, with a love of house music and I write, produce and DJ for fun in my spare time. With the support of AAAF’s Sponsorship Program, I was able to sign up to a program of courses at Point Blank Music School in London, where I take classes online, collaborate with classmates from around the world and have had the most amazing time learning today’s technology for producing music.
Remember 4th brother? Taking the course has given me the confidence to progress my music goals, and this year I kicked a life goal with AAAF’s support, releasing my first piece of music publicly and dedicated to AAAF “4th brother – feels good (aaaf demo mix)” on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music and others and I hope to release more in the future too. It’s been amazing to have the support to help develop my skills, build my confidence and share my music and I couldn’t have done it without this support, so THANK YOU AAAF, you do amazing work in support of so many and I really, really appreciate it. Jamie / 4th brother
It has been three months since I received the scholarship so here is my update.
It has been a tough couple of months health-wise but hopefully, things will get better now.
This AAAF scholarship has helped me a lot in so many ways.
To begin with, it helped with my music studies this year. I have learned many new singing techniques to help with my breathing and for holding notes longer. One of these techniques is called the iron gate. This is for when I am doing my counting vocal exercise. It helps save the air that you have in your diaphragm. When you are using the iron gate technique, you say a number, and then you lock all the air back up by closing your mouth.
The other way it helped me is that now I’m able to have more time in the studio with my teacher.
Thanks to that I am able to learn harder songs for my exams now. I have been learning some amazing songs by various artists and from various genres. Some of them are by ABBA, some from musicals, and I have also learned some rock songs by Avril Lavigne and classics by Olivia Newton-John.
These songs are all part of my preparation for my grade 3 vocal exam, which will be coming soon. I will also be doing another grade at the end of the year which wouldn’t be possible if not for the scholarship – so thank you AAAF for allowing me to have that.
But the biggest benefit to all this is how much I have improved not only in singing but also in how much more focused I am. It is a lot of work to prepare for exams and I had to learn to manage my time better to fit it all in.
I am more focused, but also happier. Singing makes me happy and forget about the little troubles or snarky comments from kids at school about my hair. So I really hope I’ll be able to keep singing for more years to come.
Hopefully, on my next check-in, I can share the results from my vocal performance exam with you all!
Alopecia is a life-changing event that causes a lot of unknowns to enter into our life. Since this can feel scary, a normal response to this is for the brain to focus on the negative aspects about all of this new uncertainty.
However, these negative thought patterns can take up a lot of our energy and, ultimately, don’t change the fact that we are still experiencing hair loss and all the unknowns that come with it. Negative thoughts can eventually lead to us feeling tired, stuck and low on self-confidence.
Once we can release these negative thoughts we can begin to experience more acceptance of the uncertainty and hair loss journey as a whole.
Here are 5 tips to breaking the pattern of negativity so you can begin feeling more acceptance, confidence and ease in your experiences.
1. Notice the thought
Simply notice that you had a negative thought, without judging yourself or pushing it away.
2. Recognise the emotion(s) that come with the negative thought
Notice what emotion(s) show up when you have the thought.
Example: “I’m going to feel weird if they know about my hair loss.” One emotion that could come up from this thought is shame.
3. Process the emotion through the body
Do some movement (like dancing, exercising or yoga) or a self-care practice, like journaling, which will help to move the emotion through you.
4. Banish the thought
You can use language like: “I banish you”, “You are no longer welcome here”, “You no longer serve me and I release you now.”
5. Create a newempowering thought
Replace the negative thought with something that feels positive and empowering.
Example: Instead of “They are going to shame me when they find out about my hair loss” replace it with “They are going to be inspired when they hear about my hair loss” or “I’m going to feel relief when they know about my hair”
Choose a thought that feels true for you. This may feel hard at first, but the trick is to keep practicing. Over time, you will be able to create new thought patterns!
One of our very own AAAF community members, Sheridan Ruth – a yoga therapist, meditation facilitator, and empowerment coach – created a video outlining these 5 steps in more depth. Watch it here!
My name is Katie Hale and I have Alopecia Universalis. My hair loss came on rapidly at the age of 23 and it hasn’t ever come back.
Like most, I found a small circular patch of – well, nothing – on the back of my head on the right side. Having no idea what it was, I just assumed I had burnt my head at some point with my straightener and it fell out. My friend and I even had a good laugh about it and couldn’t stop touching it.
Fast forward a couple of months and I noticed it felt bigger. Then it just started to spread. Within about 2-3 weeks, I had the beginnings of five patches. Within the next seven days, I lost half the hair on my head which was incredibly stressful and traumatic.
I had no other point but to shave most of it off. I tried to salvage a longer patch on the top of my head but that lasted less than three days.
Over the next three months or so I lost the rest of the hair on my body. Fascinatingly, the hair on my right side always went first – my right eyebrow split in the middle, then my left, my right eyelashes fell out, then my left and most of my scalp patches were on the right.
I tried a number of treatments but they all just made me incredibly sick and never really succeeded in triggering hair growth. I couldn’t justify wreaking havoc on my physical health for the sake of some hair, so I made the (incredibly tough) decision to stop.
I was terrified of wigs so I have always rocked the bald look, which comes with its challenges. People often treat you differently and while that can be disheartening and upsetting, I feel like I have an opportunity to make life a bit better for others who look like me. If they stare at me because I’m the first bald girl they’ve seen, then maybe they won’t do it again to someone who isn’t as strong or who might be more self-conscious. Or if someone has hair loss, maybe seeing me go bald might just help give them that little boost of confidence to try it themselves if they want to.
I want people to feel confident to be themselves in and out of wigs so if my experience makes it that little bit better for someone else, then I’m happy and it’s worth it.
That is exactly why I’m so excited to raise awareness through this sponsorship – no one should ever feel like they are held back by their alopecia, but so many are. I want to show people that no matter how scary it is at the start, you can still achieve whatever you want to and do the things that make you happy.