How Can a Hair Stylist or Barber Help a Client with Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata
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Don’t Underestimate Your Ability to Help Your Clients

One of the best parts of being a hair stylist or barber is that moment when you spin that chair to face the mirror and show a client the great hair style you’ve just done and the client’s face lights up.  Everyone loves to look their best, and hair professionals have the unique opportunity to help their clients achieve that.  It’s hugely satisfying, but it can also be hugely challenging when the client has a condition that causes hair loss, such as alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata causes the hair to fall out in clumps, which is obviously very upsetting.  What happens is that the immune system attacks the hair follicles.  Alopecia areata usually strikes men and women in their 20s, leaving smooth, round bald spots, but it can also develop during childhood or later in life.  Normally the hair regrows in less than year, but in some cases it can continue to come out for years and sometimes, it simply never returns.  In extreme cases, it results in complete baldness on the scalp which is referred to as alopecia totalis.  Discolored and pitted nails are another sign of alopecia areata, and indicate a more serious case with less likelihood of hair regrowth.  Hair regrowth is also less likely if there is a family history of the condition or another autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease or diabetes.

How to Help a Client with Alopecia Areata

Barbers and hair stylists are usually the second port of call after the doctor.  If a client mentions being upset about hair loss and it sounds like he or she has not seen the doctor about it, hair stylists and barbers would be doing that client a big favor by pointing out that a doctor is the one who helps with hair regrowth and even more importantly discover what is causing the hair loss.  As a hair stylist or barber you are not required to diagnose anyone, of course, but if you see and recognize the signs of a problem, especially if the client has expressed concern, the professional thing to do is direct the client to a medical professional.

In the meantime, barbers and hair stylists can do a lot to help alopecia areata sufferers cope with the condition by guiding them to styles that minimize the visibility of the bald spots.  Perms and dyes can help with this in the short term, but if the hair does not start to regrow in six months, other alternatives might be necessary.

Alopecia areata can cause a lot of distress, especially because the sufferers are typically so young. Naturally, people in their 20s are more concerned with having a great, trendy hair style than about preserving their hair and can be really shocked to see big clumps of hair falling out.  A trusted and knowledgeable hair stylist or barber who can reassure them, encourage them to seek medical attention and provide a stylish look to keep them confident about their appearance can be a real help to alopecia areata sufferers.

For those individuals especially females who experience total loss of hair on their scalp, hair prostheses are required to maintain any type of hair style so becoming familiar with short term and long term hair pieces can be beneficial to your clients.  If the eyelashes are missing as well, then artificial lashes might be required.

In all cases, the emotional support and concern that you provide can help your clients get through the challenge of this highly unpredictable cause of baldness.

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