(By Ria Newman)
Accounting assistant, Faith O’Kelly (35) from Wiltshire, UK, grew up with long, thick hair, but after giving birth to her second daughter Summer in 2008 she started to notice bald patches.
She was devastated to be diagnosed with alopecia areata, which targets the scalp, and covered the patches with hats until her hair grew back within a year.
But in 2017 her hair fell out again – this time in large patches. Faith estimated that 70% of her hair fell out over the course of two years.
She found the change upsetting and didn’t want to leave the house and face the public. She says she felt ‘unfeminine’ and unattractive.
Her husband Paul (52) constantly told her she was beautiful, but her confidence took a knock and she felt down about herself.
Speaking out about alopecia
Faith took to Instagram in July 2020 to share a bald picture and was overwhelmed by the influx of supportive comments she received.
Her confidence grew and she worried less about hiding her alopecia, buying a bright red wig to make a statement. “Alopecia has actually boosted my confidence. I’ve always been shy but I just don’t care what others think of me as much as I used to. Once you’ve been at an all-time low, the only way to go is up.”
View this post on Instagram
I literally can’t get enough of this fiery little number! She was a drunk buy I forgot I’d ordered until she arrived yesterday. She cost a whole £8.88 I would put the link on, but quite a few ladies went to buy her after I showed them and she’s now sold out. I’ll keep an eye out though.#alopecia #alopeciaareata #nohairdontcare #redhead #redwig
Her family has embraced her condition too, with Summer (12), daughter Kyah (16) and stepson Fynn (15) even chopping off parts of her remaining hair.
Hair loss linked to contraceptive coil
In late 2019, Faith read an article online linking hair loss with the contraceptive Mirena IUD – which she had implanted in December 2016. The hormonal contraceptive is a small plastic device that is put into the womb and releases the hormone progesterone.
Her doctor confirmed the link, which only occurs in rare cases, and after removing the coil in August, Faith’s hair has grown back. Areas that had been completely bald for two years are now covered in small hairs, and her patches are shrinking dramatically.
Although she hopes all of her hair will entirely grow back, Faith’s true triumph has been accepting her appearance – hair or no hair.