‘It’s really a confidence issue’ – Samantha on embracing alopecia
- Credit: Archant
A woman from Norwich has opened up about hair loss condition alopecia and embracing a shaved head.
Samantha Knight was 13 when she was diagnosed with alopecia after a family member noticed she was losing hair.
The musician from Norwich, who has lived with the condition for 18 years, said the diagnosis was a surprise and initially sparked a confidence crisis.
Ms Knight, now 31, said: "I struggled with identity, femininity and feeling attractive. It's really a confidence issue. People stare at you, especially if you're female because it's not the norm in society. It doesn't feel great.
"It's particularly hard if you have had hair and then suddenly lose it, as it can be a big part of your identity."
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She added that a lack of alopecia awareness means that people often assume the worst case scenario, rather than a hair loss condition.
"It is getting better." She said, "But there are still too many curious looks and questions asked around alopecia.
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"The more we talk about it the better as people will realise it's just alopecia and not something more sinister."
Ms Knight sought treatment from both a GP and a specialist, but found they were ineffective and shaved her head aged 23.
She said: "I tried loads of things like base solutions, suppressant drugs, electrolysis, but people don't realise the mental and emotional side affects this has. I was willing to try anything.
"Where do you draw the line between causing more damage to yourself?"
Ms Knight also felt that treatment often focused on research into the cause of alopecia and not on living with the condition.
"They try their best," she said. "But more work needs to go into the effects of having alopecia day-to-day and giving people the access and tools to live with it.
"Most of the time, people just get one prescription a year for synthetic hair but it isn't as good as real hair because you can't style it."
Now Ms Knight has founded her own charity, Gigs for Wigs, which aims to raise money for real human hair wigs through events across Norwich.
She said: "With human hair you can express exactly how you feel. You can have long hair, curly hair and it gives people an option."
For information on Gigs For Wigs events visit www.facebook.com/gigsforwigsuk/