Alopecia is an auto-immune disease that results in the body’s immune system attacking hair follicles. Some people lose hair on one part of the body, while others lose all of their body hair.
There are a number of factors that cause it, such as diet, lifestyle, lack of exercise and stress and Barnard was diagnosed in 2015, soon after she returned to Cape Town from the US.
“My hairdresser discovered a bald spot the size of a 50c coin and said it was alopecia. She said it was caused by stress, which didn’t make sense to me, as I was not particularly stressed at the time.”
The spot soon grew to the size of a R5 coin and her doctor confirmed she was suffering from Alopecia areata. He prescribed a spray to stimulate hair growth, but, after a few months, the spot had doubled in size. She was "referred me to a dermatologist, where I went for six cortisone injections, directly into my scalp. My head bled and I was bruised for weeks after.”
She stopped the treatment as she saw no progress, as her hair was still falling out at an alarming rate, to the point where where she went bald on one side of her head.
Her hair loss interfered with her daily life. “I stopped going to gym because if my ponytail moved, my spot would be open. I also couldn’t swim, because taking my cap off would lead to people staring.”
She said she had to rely on her fiancé, with their wedding imminent, to ensure the spot was covered at all times.
She tried homeopathy, but it was unsuccessful.
By the time of the wedding, her hair was at its worst, but it was still long enough for her to style to cover the bald spot.
She had just started laser treatment and, within weeks, "had short, prickly ha growing back.”
Barnard suggests hair donations to Ari’s Cancer Foundation, for adolescents and youth cancer sufferers. - Weekend Argus Reporter