Alopecia Awareness - Lichen Planopilaris
As part of Alopecia Awareness Month here at Black Venus Beauty, we are raising awareness of the different forms of alopecia. We believe that more awareness should be raised so anyone suffering from alopecia does not feel ashamed and knows that help and various solutions are available. As we mentioned before, we are not professional experts, so we advise you to contact a GP or professional expert if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned below.
In this post, we will talk about Lichen Planopilaris.
It is a type of alopecia that occurs when a relatively common skin disease known as lichen planus affects an area of the skin that destroys the hair follicle and replaces the bald patch with scars resulting in permanent loss of hair.
Lichen Planopilaris is between two and five times more common in women than in men and most commonly onset starts in your mid 40’s.
How does it look like?
People may experience scalp pain or burning and scalp tenderness. The top of the scalp is most affected and over time you will start to notice bald patches being created. Inside the patches where hair has been destroyed the skin may appear smoother and shinier; facial and body hair is rarely affected.
What are the causes?
The cause is unknown but may be linked with the body’s immune system.
How is it diagnosed?
Lichen Planopilaris is diagnosed with a hair and scalp examination or a skin biopsy if required. It can be difficult to diagnose and in some cases, a diagnosis may not be able to be confirmed.
How is it treated?
It is mainly treated with topical medication such as creams, gels but can also be treated orally. Results for oral medication can vary greatly from person to person.
Potent steroid-based gels can help the affected area of the skin if applied regularly.
Steroid injections have much better results but can often be painful, uncomfortable and have a higher risk of causing adverse effects.
Alopecia story: Serica’s story with Lichen Planopilaris
Serica, secondary teacher, has had alopecia for about 12 years. She used to have hair extensions plaited into her hair in her 20's and early 30's. She changed hairstyles practices in her early 30s when her hair started thinning and developed bald patches at the front of her scalp.
Her hair specialist for wigs and weaves advised her to see her GP and take pictures of her scalp to monitor any changes. In the meantime, her stylist offered her weaves by creating a special mesh to hide her bald patches. Serica recognised she ignored the advice of consulting a GP for a very long time.
“I ignored the advice to go and see a doctor and just continued having weaves.”
One day, her hairdresser told her she was no longer able to stitch the hair to hers as the bald patch at the front had become too large.
“I felt sick and panicked at the thought of not being able to cover it up. I knew I had to go and see my GP for some help. I decided to wear my hair natural to reduce the stress on it whilst I waited for the appointment to come.”
When she finally consulted her GP, she went under many treatments and medications for a few years. She tried creams, steroids, oral tablets and other topical treatments. While trying various treatments, she used to wear wigs.
After many appointments with her GP, Serica was finally referred to a dermatologist in October 2016 and had a scalp biopsy. She was diagnosed with Lichen Planopilaris.
“I continued to wear my wig just buying new ones of exactly the same style so no one would suspect, least not the people I work with.”
“The diagnosis was a relief but the words that followed will haunt me forever as I was told it was a scarring form of alopecia and my hair would never grow back!”
It was hard to take that in and Serica felt into a form of depression. Finally in January 2017 she decided to get help through Alopecia UK support group. She met other people like her and was able to share her story and concerns with people who understood her.
“I owe my sanity and return to normality to this charity and feel I would not be the strong person I am now if it was not for them.”
“I think having alopecia has made me a stronger and more confident person. I now feel much more accepting of my condition and do what feel natural to me.”
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend contacting your GP straight away. Please note we are not professional experts so there may be additional symptoms which are not listed above.
Here at Black Venus Beauty, we pride ourselves on providing the best quality products for curly and afro hair. We want to unlock the potential of your hair and provide products specific to the needs of your hair, including preventing types of alopecia.
If you are interested in learning more about alopecia check our next post on Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia.