Rais­ing aware­ness of alope­cia

Vuk'uzenzele - - Youhtehalftohcus -

A RARE CON­DI­TION re­lated to hair loss has led a Dur­ban woman to ad­vo­cacy.

Siza­kele Md­luli-Chap­lin has a dream of liv­ing in a world where beauty is not de­fined by long hair, a slim body and straight white teeth.

She was di­ag­nosed with alope­cia, which is a con­di­tion that causes the im­mune sys­tem to at­tack hair fol­li­cles through­out the body and leads loss from the scalp, un­der­arms, eye­brows, eye­lashes and the pu­bic area.

“So ba­si­cally, you lose all your hair and peo­ple call you an alien and all sorts of hurt­ful names,” said Md­luli-Chap­lin.

Md­luli-Chap­lin has been liv­ing with this dis­ease for seven years and she is de­ter­mined to raise aware­ness about the con­di­tion.

This Dur­ban-based woman who is now liv­ing in the United States has writ­ten a book ti­tled ‘Enough Al­ready’ in a bid to cre­ate aware­ness about this dis­or­der.

She adds that it took al­most a year to get a di­ag­no­sis of what was hap­pen­ing to her af­ter vis­it­ing sev­eral physi­cians and der­ma­tol­o­gist who couldn’t ex­plain why she was los­ing her hair.

She adds that when she was fi­nally di­ag­nosed, she still had no point of ref­er­ence on a way for­ward on treat­ing her con­di­tion.

“My frus­tra­tions es­ca­lated not only by what was hap­pen­ing to me, but by re­al­is­ing that I didn’t have a clue where to start look­ing for help. There is a wave of stigma as­so­ci­ated with hair loss.”

She adds that al­though the con­di­tion is not fa­tal, some peo­ple die slowly on the in­side from shame.

She adds that peo­ple with alope­cia are of­ten teased be­cause look dif­fer with­out hair.

“This I be­lieve hap­pens be­cause the pub­lic does not know nor un­der­stand this con­di­tion. Those who are suf­fer­ers are afraid to em­brace their hair loss be­cause hair loss is as­so­ci­ated with be­ing sick or get­ting old.”

She ex­plains that alope­cia can start at any age, and some peo­ple are born with it, sci­en­tists have not been able to pin­point ex­actly what trig­gers alope­cia, even though it is be­lieved to be a ge­net­i­cally pro­grammed dis­or­der.

She pointed out that alope­cia can­not be pre­vented or avoided be­cause it man­i­fests it­self dif­fer­ently from per­son to per­son.

“Eat­ing healthy and keep­ing your gut clean some­times can help along with avoid­ing stress­ful sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

Siza­kele Md­luli-Chap­lin.

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