alopecia areata

Alopecia Adventures continued

So in my last hair post, I mentioned I had been diagnosed with alopecia areata. I have a few bald patches scattered around my head but for the most part, they could be hidden. I was applying a topical steroid for two weeks before stopping because my hair suddenly started shedding in high amounts. Like I’m talking 400-500 hairs, maybe more, a day just falling off. I also had a lot of inflammation that wasn’t there before and something had changed on my scalp. The original doctor that gave me the steroid cream insisted that it was still a vitamin deficiency and that I needed to find ways to relieve me stress. While that may be true, I was in so much discomfort (so much itching and bleeding and it was spreading across my head within a week) and panic that I decided to see another doctor for a second opinion. Especially since I’m in the middle of my interview month and I really don’t want to be bald by the end of the month… although wearing wigs sounds kind of fun. But I don’t want to worry about that just yet.

I’m pretty sure my scratching caused whatever this second wave of hair loss to spread. The doctor thinks I might have two separate hair loss conditions (the areata and the mysterious itchy one). I’m hoping it’s something that can easily be cured with drugs (like a fungal or bacterial infection or something curable) because if it’s autoimmune, there are treatments but no cures. Anyway, I went and decided to do two scalp (“punch”) biopsies this morning for testing. For anyone not familiar with what biopsies are, it’s a procedure where the doctor basically takes a small skin sample from the affected area. This is my second time getting a skin biopsy but the first time from my scalp. The scalp apparently bleeds a lot so I got two numbing injections that also served to constrict my blood vessels to minimize the bleeding. The anesthetic didn’t really hurt. Just very minor sharpness for a second and discomfort for another few seconds. My doctor talked to me throughout the procedure to distract me since I had mentioned I hate needles and blood. The biopsy was painless… Just very minor pressure (the “punch” part) but I had to get stitches. My first time too! I could feel some poking around but nothing hurt. The anesthetic is wearing off a little so one of my biopsied areas is feeling a little sore but not enough to warrant medication. If you’ve ever gotten your earlobes pierced, it’s a bit of similar (and less) throbbing and nothing major.

Results are coming back in 7-10 days and hopefully I’ll finally get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, I’ve successfully survived my first interview weekend at University of Chicago (wonderful city and school and kind of loved it) and am preparing for Michigan this weekend. Fun times.


Hair update. The middle part ain’t happening. (Spoiler alert: alopecia adventures)

Decided to abandon the middle part. It just doesn’t look quite right. Instead, I’ve defaulted to a less severe/heavy side part.

It just looks right. There’s definitely a reason why I’ve worn my hair with a side part on the left side for the past 4+ years. Except I’ve gotten the seeming ubiquitous chop into a lob (is that a thing now?) and my hair is just starting to grow past my shoulders. Add some intense straight bangs and I’ll be rocking the same hair style I had in kindergarten. Does this allow me to claim hipster status? I joke, I joke. Sort of.

On another hair related note, I’ve recently been diagnosed with stress-related alopecia areata so I have a few bald spots going on. This is my second hair falling out “flare up” but last time, it was over all hair thinning rather than spots. This time around, I’ve got both. Ironically enough, my alopecia (autoimmune) is caused by my stress over my graduate school applications for immunology programs. If this life’s sense of humor, life’s not funny… but it’s really more annoying than anything. Fortunately, most of my spots are pretty much hidden but I’ve got one spot right at the top of the crown of my head and due to my overall thinning hair, there’s not always enough hair to cover it up. So I’ve been putting my hair up more often to help cover it up. Got some steroid cream (wooo) from my doctor though, so I’ll be trying that out for four weeks before going back in for a check up. Wish me luck. My hair will hopefully/likely grow back in in a few months to a year. It could be worse.