Blogs James shares his experience with alopecia areata At the end of 2014, I first noticed a small circular patch of hair loss in my beard. At first, I wasn’t too worried, I knew other guys who had seen this happen and it had sorted itself out. A few weeks later I went to the barbers and mentioned the patch of hair loss in my beard, and he told me I had a patch at the back of my head as well. I was more concerned with the patch on my head, so I went to see the GP. I feel like the GP’s response scarred me – he said it’s just stress and he made out it was all in my head, like I was making something of nothing. He told me to try Minoxidil for 3 months and see how it went. The Minoxidil didn’t help and when I went back to the GP my hair had pretty much gone. I hadn’t shaved it off at that point because I wanted to show the GP what it looked like. I basically got nowhere with the GP. I did go and see a nutritionist to see if there was anything going on, like a food allergy, and I went gluten free. It’s not led to hair regrowth, but I have been doing it for so long now I just stick to it. I think when my hair loss was patchy, I was more aware of it and I decided to shave it off. Once I shaved it off, I wasn’t too concerned about how it looked because I was more worried about why it had happened. I started wearing thicker rimmed glasses to disguise the eyebrow and eye lash loss because I feel like the glasses make this loss less visible. For me one of the biggest things that’s bothered me about my hair loss is why it happened. I was really worried something was going on in my body because around the same time as the hair loss started, I’d started having problems with my stomach and that was really affecting my life. At one point I was even struggling to go out because of the stomach issues. I wanted to know what made it all happen. I wasn’t convinced it could just be stress because I didn’t feel that stressed – it was the hair loss and the stomach problems that made me stressed! I joined the Alopecia UK Facebook Group to see what other people were saying, and mainly to see if anyone had any answers. It was my fiancée that found the group – I’m not sure I would have looked for it myself but my fiancée did the leg work, so I wanted to give it a go. I was really shocked that people who lost their hair 20 years ago still had no answers. I feel like there should be answers. I had to beg for a dermatology referral but to be honest it wasn’t much help. They just said it was alopecia universalis and there wasn’t much they could do. I switched the focus to my stomach issues to see if I could figure out if the two were connected and get things sorted. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere with the NHS so I paid to see a private gastroenterologist and from there I was told I should see an immunologist. It’s not been cheap and it’s been a long journey, partly due to COVID. For me I just feel like I want to get to the bottom of what is happening. It’s been difficult and I have been down at times, I think it’s just the not knowing why it’s happening. It all felt out of my control. I suppose I feel more in control now I have been seeing the immunologist. I am doing something about it, so it makes me feel like I’ve taken some control back. Although it’s disappointing that I haven’t had any regrowth at least I now know where I stand with it. I have just had to get used to it and I think, over time, I have made my peace with it. My fiancée has only known me without hair so its not affected my relationship. When meeting people, there is an extra layer of having to explain I have alopecia but otherwise it’s not been a problem. I am on an ongoing, stumbling journey to find answers. My sister and my partner have been very helpful. I think I’m a typical bloke who hasn’t looked into the support side of things but I’m fortunate that the people around me have been really supportive and looked into stuff to help. They told me about the Alopecia UK Facebook Group and that has been really helpful. I have surprised myself getting in touch with Alopecia UK to share my story because up until this point I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of those closest to me about it. I don’t really talk about how I feel about it. I think sometimes when you feel down and your mindset is not great you lack the determination to go and help yourself. I thought maybe sharing my story might be useful for others. For me, looking for answers has helped but I have come to the point where if I don’t get the answers about my hair loss, I know I have done what I can. I have made my peace with it. If it comes back, great, but if not I think that I will be ok.