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Raising awareness of alopecia

Written by: More Matshediso

A rare condition related to hair loss has led a Durban woman to advocacy.

Sizakele Mdluli-Chaplin has a dream of living in a world where beauty is not defined by long hair, a slim body and straight white teeth.

She was diagnosed with alopecia, which is a condition that causes the immune system to attack hair follicles throughout the body and leads loss from the scalp, underarms, eyebrows, eyelashes and the pubic area.

“So basically, you lose all your hair and people call you an  alien and all sorts of hurtful names,” said Mdluli-Chaplin.Sizakele Mdluli-Chaplin

Mdluli-Chaplin has been living with this disease for seven years and she is determined to raise awareness about the condition.

This Durban-based woman who is now living in the United States has written a book titled ‘Enough Already’ in a bid to create awareness about this disorder.

She adds that it took almost a year to get a diagnosis of what was happening to her after visiting several physicians and dermatologist who couldn’t explain why she was losing her hair.

She adds that when she was finally diagnosed, she still had no point of reference on a way forward on treating her condition.

“My frustrations escalated not only by what was happening to me, but by realising that I didn’t have a clue where to start looking for help. There is a wave of stigma associated with hair loss.”

She adds that although the condition is not fatal, some people die slowly on the inside from shame.

She adds that people with alopecia are often teased because look differ without hair.

“This I believe happens because the public does not know nor understand this condition. Those who are sufferers are afraid to embrace their hair loss because hair loss is associated with being sick or getting old.”

She explains that alopecia can start at any age, and some people are born with it, scientists have not been able to pinpoint exactly what triggers alopecia, even though it is believed to be a genetically programmed disorder.

She pointed out that alopecia cannot be prevented or avoided because it manifests itself differently from person to person.

“Eating healthy and keeping your gut clean sometimes can help along with avoiding stressful situations,” she said.