Hair loss: Causes, symptoms, treatment

It's often said that a woman's hair is her crowning glory, so how does one cope with clinical hair loss when our hair is so intrinsically linked to our identity and self-image?

Gail Mabalane recently opened up about her hair loss journey after being diagnosed with alopecia. Mabalane says she was shocked when a chunk of hair fell out during a routine wash.

She spoke to Azania Mosaka on how she has gradually accepted the condition and has gone on to seek help.

Mabalane says a sense of community always makes the challenge so much easier.

I just knew that I had to share this. It is liberating that I can come out and share that this is me. When this first happened, I was in shock, because I thought this is not supposed to happen to me, I am the girl with the hair and people are like oh we love your hair.

Gail Mabalane , Actress

I am very grateful that this happened to me in my 30's because I am so much more secure in who I am and comfortable in my own skin. I would love for people to remember me for how I made them feel or for who I was as person.Over the years I have learnt to let go of finding my identity in things that are fleeting - be it money, looks, hair...

Gail Mabalane , Actress

Leading up to this I did abuse my scalp with chemicals and I think that is also another thing we need to educate ourselves on, to empower our hairstylists to be able to say I don't think you should be doing this because you have already gone through so much with your scalp.

Gail Mabalane , Actress

Dermatologist Dr Pholile Mpofu explains about the types of alopecia and how to treat the actual problem.

Alopecia is a broad term to mean loss of hair but the particular one that Gail is talking about is the one that occurs in 3-6 percent of women, called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia. It is commonly seen in especially African women which is inherited. It is genetic and not anyone's fault but it is aggravated by a late treatment, traction of whatever kind and clinical treatement.

Dr Pholile Mpofu, Dermatologist

We need to identify it early. Sometimes I find that patients go for treatment that really is moisturising and not addressing the problem which is inflammation. People think that they have to oil the hair but it actually aggravates the problem.

Dr Pholile Mpofu, Dermatologist

She says alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition which presents itself as rapid loss of hair and softness to the scalp.

It can be isolated patches but sometimes you find that the whole scalp is involved or even the whole body - where there not even eyelashes or body hairs. It can be associated with other conditions like thyroid disease.

Dr Pholile Mpofu, Dermatologist

She says this type of alopecia can be treated with injections, micro needling or minoxidil.

If it is minimal, you do get improvement.

Dr Pholile Mpofu, Dermatologist

Click on the link below to hear the full conversation...


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