Beautician opens up on having alopecia: 'I don't shy away from the bad days'

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A beautician who lost all her hair to alopecia in 12 weeks has spoken candidly about life with the incurable condition - revealing how strangers often see her bald head and assume she is being treated for cancer.

Blessed with long, thick dark hair, when Zoe Patchett, 27, started shedding a few strands in October 2018 she gave it little thought. But soon fistfuls of hair were coming out when she washed it – leading to a diagnosis of alopecia in January 2019.

Alopecia is an incurable condition which sees the immune system mistakenly attack hair follicles.

READ MORE | KZN professor Ncoza Dlova involved in breakthrough study for hair loss among black women to offer key alopecia transplant procedure

Zoe says, "My femininity and self-esteem were taken away, just like that. To still be able to see yourself as you, and as beautiful, first requires overcoming a huge hurdle after something like that." 

Zoe's hair loss came at the end of a long and complex relationship with her self-image.

Throughout her early years, she struggled with body dysmorphia. Then, a cruel twist of fate saw Zoe finally reach a place of self-acceptance only for alopecia to hit.  

READ MORE | Hair myths busted and the truth you need to know about hair loss revealed by an expert

Working as a beautician has made aspects of her hair loss doubly difficult because she gives treatments that she can no longer have herself to clients. 

In addition, thoughtless comments from strangers have left her feeling self-conscious. But she has embraced her condition and uses social media to share awareness. 

"I don't shy away from the bad days, as it's important to be real and show every part of life with alopecia," she says.

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