Hair loss confronted

BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer

St. Petersburg –The second annual Alopecia Awareness seminar kicked off this weekend with an entourage of women and men set to gain information on how to stop hair loss altogether or at least slow it’s fall from their heads.

“Today you will be educated, encouraged, and inspired,” said Marlo Scott, owner of Hair It Iz Natural & Chemical Salon and the person behind the event. She is the President of Alopecia Awareness Tampa Bay Association, Inc. (ATBA) and has made it her mission to bring awareness to those suffering from the physical and emotional toll losing hair takes.

A difficult diagnosis to deal with, alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system in which those afflicted can lose hair on their scalp, body, even their lashes and eyebrows. There are many different types of alopecia, with the shedding of hair in some only being temporary, while it can cause permanent baldness in others.

Since September is national hair loss month, it is the perfect time for those in need and those wishing to help to come together to provide information to the many adults and children suffering from temporary or permanent alopecia.

“Inner beauty is inside each of us, we’re all beautiful in God’s eyes,” said Jodi Davis with the WeeRead Literacy Program. “He doesn’t make any junk or make mistakes.”

Nevertheless those suffering the social stigma of losing their hair whether due to genetics, medical issues, or styling techniques don’t always feel beautiful on the inside, especially women. Often they lack confidence or acceptance from others.

So the ATBA, under Scott’s guidance, once again put together the event of all events. Professionals in the field of hair from doctors to hairstylists were on hand speaking to the audience members about the various types of alopecia and what can be done to not only help stop it, but to also prevent it in the first place.

Dr. Maria Hicks, a board certified dermatologist from Advanced Dermatology, discussed the common hair thinning that she sees everyday in both men and women.

“Most suffer in silence,” said Hicks speaking of the myriad of people who experience hair loss. “They don’t even want to share, they feel embarrassed.”

But Hicks and the ATBA want those suffering to know that they are not alone, that there is somewhere to go to get advice or just a shoulder to cry on.

The doctor explained the different classes of hair loss and how the normal 100 hairs a day that most lose can sometimes increase to almost 700 hairs a day. Physical or emotional stress can play a big part in hair shedding. If a person is suffering from a medical condition, Hicks informed that the body will place its resources elsewhere to ensure the vital organs survive in stressful situations. At these times, the hair doesn’t always get the attention it needs.

“Patients will say, ‘I noticed that my hair is falling everywhere, on the sink, in the shower, in my brush, on my pillow,’” said Hicks who also pointed a finger at crash diets, birth control pills, and recent surgeries as reasons why some lose a multitude of strands.

“That’s when the body makes the decision to stop concentrating on hair and take care of other important stuff,” she continued.

Other chronic diseases such as cancer, thyroid issues and anemia can cause the loss of hair, so the first step is always to get your blood screened. This way a proper diagnosis can be made and specialists can determine which route to take in order to treat the hair loss.

Once any medical issues are treated, hair should begin to restore itself. But what if there is no medical reason for the failing follicles?

Experts at the event all pointed to how the hair is handled.

“Always handle your hair with care,” said Hicks who also encouraged proper nutrition to include fruits, vegetables, and protein. She also zeroed in on African- American hair speaking to those who wear their hair in tight braids or put their children in braids.

“It’s so cute,” she said, “but sometimes you can see the hair that is just receding all the way.” Hicks explained that the braids themselves weren’t a bad idea, but suggested moms loosen them up. She also recommended conditioning hair daily.

Ife Davis Bailey of Silverlining Beauty and Hair Loss Center, 1834 49th St. S. in Gulfport, also spoke at the event. A returning speaker from last year, Bailey discussed the various ways her center helps combat the loss of hair in women.

Bailey’s concern began to grow as she witnessed more and more of her clients losing their hair, some for medical reasons, some due to medications or styling, and others to just genes. So she researched and has mastered the art of hair replacement techniques.

Bailey brought with her hairpieces to show off to the guests. “There are different pieces for different situations,” she said, depending on whether you are a carcinoma victim or a burn victim for instance. “Every person receives a customized piece; it’s fitted just for your head.”

So if you suffer from alopecia whether it is from genetics, styling, or medical reasons, the ATBA hopes to lessen the stigma associated with hair loss and find real solutions to stopping it.

Although there have been a lot of advances from laser therapy, to ointments, to hair weaves, experts state that each person’s head is different. While restorative therapy may work wonders with one person, another option may have to be used for someone else.

“As we learn better, we do better,” said Bailey who vows to continue to further the education into hair loss and hair replacement.

ATBA mission is to provide education, information, and encouragement to adults and children suffering with temporary or permanent alopecia. They offer alternatives and fundraising to provide custom hairpieces to patients of hair restoration, while helping to also bridge the gap when there is no insurance involved.

For more information on ATBA email Alopeciaawarenesstampaassoc@gmail.com or ATBAlivebluelovepink@blogspot.com.

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