It's Hair Loss Support At Its Best
Hi. My name is Kerry, and I think I decided to write this blog mainly to get out my feelings of frustration, helplessness, and fear for my 5 year old daughter.
At the end of March 2014, my daughter brought home some adorable school pictures. When I looked at them, I noticed her eyebrows were SO full, and looking at her then, they had drastically thinned. Immediately, I began trying to think back and looking through cell phone pictures of her and I discovered that this had begun approximately the end of March or beginning of April.
This year, she begged me for one of those silly Flippy hats, and I obliged even though it was a little snug on her head. I thought maybe the hat had rubbed off her eyebrows, or she had been doing it herself (allergy season is exceptionally bad here in WNY this year - but I'll get to that, too.) However, when my 93 year old grandmother asked, "Kerry, what happened to her eyebrows?!", I began to grow a little concerned.
It doesn't help that I am a nurse, and the plethora of things that ran through my mind was stressful enough. I started to google (which is ALWAYS a mistake, right?!), and found alopecia, which I had heard of before. I kept saying to myself, "Man, this sounds SO much like her."
For the first 3 years of her life, she suffered from asthma or "reactive airway", which she sometimes needed a nebulizer for; in the last 2 years, she has grown out of this. This year, she developed atopic dermatitis (eczema) on her little cheeks and nose, which I diligently applied baby Aveeno eczema to until it subsided (but it still comes and goes with the weather), I believe this is secondary to her seasonal allergies. Also, she got sick for the first time with strep throat this past March, before all of this occurred. They treated it with a course of antibiotics that were too strong for the poor little thing, and once they lessened the dose, she was able to tolerate it and the strep went away... 3 WEEKS LATER. My father also believes at one point in his late 40s, he had alopecia in his beard, which eventually resolved itself. All of these things together, lead me to believe that she was a dead ringer for alopecia.
LONG story short, I ended up taking her to a local dermatologist who her diagnosed her with alopecia areata. That night, and for probably a steady week afterwards, I sat on her bedroom floor next to her bed and cried. I am not religious, I am slightly spiritual, but I was begging any higher power out there to please just take this away from my baby girl. My beautiful baby girl. My bright, cheerful, friendly, NEVER SHY 5 year old girl.
Don't get me wrong, I am forever grateful that this is an illness which bears no physical illness, but the world we live in today can be so cruel about appearances. I know I have to be strong for her, and show her that she is more than just the hair on her body.
I took her to another dermatologist, 1.5 hours away at a pediatric hospital, to get a second opinion; the diagnosis was the same and they offered me some Protopic which isn't covered by my insurance. I am still not even sure whether or not we will try any treatment, as I am waiting to see how this all unfolds.
So far, her scalp has not become involved. I do her hair for school every day and have been keeping a close eye on it (I don't notice any hair in the drain or on her pillow). Currently, her eyebrows have not lost anymore hair (or they are falling out at such a slow rate that I cannot tell). I drive myself crazy taking pictures of her eyebrows while she sleeps.
I am attempting to seek out other parents who have had to endure this, and perhaps some advice. Just in case, I have to prepare myself for the worst progression possible. Right now, she knows that her eyebrows are "missing" but she really couldn't care less. In fact, after we saw the second dermatologist, and she actually heard the words ALOPECIA AREATA, she was making a song out of it. She really doesn't know there is a possibility that she could lose a lot of hair, including that on her scalp. Being 5 years old, I'm afraid this will just cause her to worry. She is the type of child who would ask consistently, "Mommy, will my hair fall out today?"... I guess for now we are taking it one day at a time, but am I doing the right thing by keeping this bit of information from her?
Has anyone else experienced AA which contained itself strictly to the eyebrows? I haven't been able to find much on eyebrows and AA. Usually, the presentation begins on the scalp and the eyebrows and eyelashes tend to fall out later, or as it progresses. I find it very unusual that only her eyebrows are involved (we have had her thyroid tested along with every other blood test you could think of). I also find it very unsettling at the same time, constantly on edge that her hair is going to begin to fall out.
If anyone has any advice that can help bring me back from the edge, it would be greatly appreciated. It has been a few weeks, and I have had some time to come to terms with it, but I am still struggling as a mother. I want her to be confident. I have found a few parents of children with AA, AT, and AU through social media, and they were all very helpful and kind.