A SCOTTISH mum from Ayr who was told by her doctor her dramatic hair loss was a normal part of childbirth was devastated to discover she had life-changing illness alopecia.
Amiee Young, 33, noticed her hair started to fall out after her son was born in summer 2012, but it wasn’t until January 2013 that the doctors confirmed what she knew all along - it wasn’t coming back. Being diagnosed with alopecia changed Amiee’s life. It was an illness she had never even heard of before, and now it is part of almost every area of her life - from being on the board of Autoimmune Alopecia Research UK (AAR-UK), to starting her own business selling the highest quality wigs available.
“After the birth of my son, I started noticing that I was loosing my hair quite quickly. At first I wasn’t too concerned because I’d just had a baby and a lot of people were saying that your hair grows quicker in pregnancy and then falls out, so I wasn’t too concerned.
“But it was when I started noticing a bald patch and more and more hair in the shower and on my pillow in the morning, I went to the GP in September/ October time.
“At my first GP appointment told me ‘you’ll have a baby, it’ll be back by the time he’s one.’ But I knew it was more than that. It was January 2013 before a GP officially said alopecia, and that’s when it really hit home, that it probably wasn’t going to stop and wasn’t going to grow back. It was horrible.”
Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, with only around 10 per cent of people never regrowing hair.
There has been almost no research into why alopecia occurs, because it is deemed as a “non-life threatening disease”, but Amiee would say this was inaccurate, saying she’s met many people who wanted to take their own life because of the illness.
Amiee has tried to turn her experience into a positive one, starting her own business selling Freedom Wigs, which she calls “The best available”.
“I have been wearing Freedom hair for months now and cant describe how much it has changed my life, it allows me to forget about my alopecia. I love that I can now help others in the same situation move on with life, which I truly believe Freedom hair has done for me.”
More importantly, Amiee joined the board of AAR-UK, the country’s alopecia research charity.
“I have been volunteering with the charity since July 2013 before joining the board in late 2014 and so far have raised a lot of money doing things such as bag packs in Asda Ayr, bake sales in my work at HMP Kilmarnock, bake sales in my mums work at Ayr Hospital, an Abseil, a 5k Muddy Trail, a stall at my local market and a Bungee jump. This year, we’ve got a ladies lunch coming up, we’ve got a children’s superhero princess ball “As a charity we also organised a crowd funding campaign between the 1st of September 2015 and the 30th of November 2015 with the aim of raising £20,000 in those months to fund the first BIOBANK for alopecia.
“We’ve going to set up a database of people like myself, who are willing to donate skin and blood samples so we can get some research started.”
But Amiee feels these are just the first steps that need to be taken.
“I only had my friends and family to rely on. My GP referred me to the dermatologist who told me it was very wide spread, there was nothing more they could do and wrote me a prescription for two wigs and sent me on my way.”
“I think there needs to be some sort of therapeutic report. Also, I didn’t know about being able to get these wigs for a while and the wait list for dermatology is insane. Luckily through my Mum and Nana, I was able to purchase my first wig, because they’re expensive.
“I think just through education and more put into doing something about it.
“What the charity is trying to do is get vouchers instead of the prescription - you get two real or four acrylic pieces a year. And they do the job, and I think it is important to go through the journey with them before you can appreciate the better ones. But we want to change it so you can get a voucher to choose where you get your wig from.
“I think it will be a very long and drawn out battle.”