Before we say good-bye to September (already?), we want to highlight second-year DPT student Conner Weeth and his journey with Alopecia. Conner is known for his hilariously dry sense of humor, kindness to others, and his #gains. Conner offers us an educational bit about Alopecia and provides a lens into living with the disease.
September is alopecia awareness month. Alopecia is an autoimmune condition that attacks a person’s hair follicles. This condition can vary from patches of hair loss to complete hair loss over the whole body. Some treatments may be helpful and hair may occasionally grow back, there is no cure for alopecia. Many people have never heard of alopecia, but it affects 200,000 Americans per year. Approximately 6.8 million Americans and 147 million people globally have or will develop alopecia in their lifetime.
People of all ages, races, and genders can develop alopecia but it often appears during childhood. As young children with alopecia get older it may become more difficult for them to accept their condition leading to issues with self confidence and building relationships.
I myself have alopecia universalis- total hair loss over the whole body. I was diagnosed with alopecia three years ago and for a year and a half afterwards I wore a hat wherever I went. I hated the way I looked and wanted to avoid the lingering eyes of people’s stares. This isn’t an uncommon reaction for people with alopecia. However with time and support many people come to find the condition liberating. They come to terms with the fact that who they are is not defined by the way they look.
It is likely that you will eventually meet somebody with alopecia during your lifetime and there are resources available for you to help support them. For more information about alopecia please visit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation at Naaf.org.
-Conner Weeth, class of 2022