“I won’t apol­o­gise for be­ing bald”

The shock of be­ing di­ag­nosed with alope­cia left Vic­to­ria Short, 25, griev­ing for her hair, but she has learnt to hold her head up high, she tells Christine Field­house

Friday - - Health -

Vic­to­ria Short had gold­en­brown, glossy locks, and when she lost a patch of hair on top of her head at the age of 13, she scraped her hair up high into a pony­tail to hide her bald spot. But nine years later, Vic­to­ria was run­ning her fin­gers through her hair when she found an­other bald patch – this time on the left-hand side of her head. Soon oth­ers fol­lowed, all on the left side, but all fairly easy to con­ceal.

Vic­to­ria, who works in public re­la­tions, was con­cerned enough to go and see her doc­tor, who said the hair might grow back, but if it didn’t there wasn’t much he could do. He di­ag­nosed Vic­to­ria with alope­cia, the med­i­cal term for hair loss, and six weeks later, by the time Vic­to­ria saw a der­ma­tol­o­gist she had three or four more patches, all the size of a small coin. She then saw a tri­chol­o­gist – a hair and scalp spe­cial­ist – but no one man­aged to halt her hair loss.

“Soon the patches were start­ing to join to­gether. I left the tri­chol­o­gist feel­ing bereft and trau­ma­tised. I was start­ing to strug­gle to cover my hair loss up,” says Vic­to­ria, who lives in Chel­tenham in Glouces­ter­shire, UK.

“It took nine months for the hair to fall out of my head, and seven months for the rest of my body. It was a tough time. I’d be ly­ing if I said it wasn’t. I took each day as it came.

“But I soon re­alised I was lucky. Some of the women with alope­cia that I’ve met have told me they went to bed with hair at night, and by morn­ing it had fallen out. Those nine months gave me the chance to ad­just rather than hav­ing bald­ness dumped on me in one go.”

Far from feel­ing sorry for her­self, Vic­to­ria, now 25, has stayed as pos­i­tive as pos­si­ble. “I’ve al­ways been phe­nom­e­nally con­fi­dent in my own skin and that helped me ad­just, but I did go through a stage of griev­ing. The emo­tion that was the hard­est to deal with was guilt. I felt guilty about be­ing up­set over some­thing as triv­ial as los­ing my hair.

“But when I was feel­ing rub­bish, I played the sil­ver lining game. I told my­self I didn’t have to buy sham­poo, rush home to wash my hair, or spend hours styling it.”

The turn­ing point came when Vic­to­ria dis­cov­ered a wig busi­ness set up by a fel­low alope­cia sufferer. “I got 12 wigs in the end, in­clud­ing a long one, like my old hair, a long curly one, and a pixie cut.

“Each day I wear a dif­fer­ent one, or some days I don’t wear one at all. My clients know I might turn up bald and they’re fine about that! Go­ing bald has taken some get­ting used to, but I de­cided I wasn’t go­ing to apol­o­gise for who I was. Some

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