Tuam hairdresser Fiona Lyons with one of her female clients who suffers from severe alopecia.

When it all falls out

SARAH hates looking in the mirror. She detests shopping for clothes. She doesn’t walk in the rain. She never goes to the beach or the swimming pool. Sarah is bald, and losing her hair over the past 17 years has had a detrimental impact on her life.

Having someone see her without her wig is Sarah’s greatest fear. It’s too devastating for her to contemplate. “I’d just be embarrassed and ashamed,” she explains.

With the loss of each strand of hair, Sarah lost more of her self-esteem, her confidence and her sense of femininity. It’s not something she’s going to get over, and there is no cure.

From once her hairdresser told her she thought she had some alopecia the loss of her hair was rapid. It began with patches but now she has very little hair.

“I was heartbroken. It was a big challenge and still is. Your hair kind of defines you.”

It’s easy to brush off Sarah’s feelings as her being paranoid or over sensitive. Men lose their hair all of the time, don’t they? The receding hairline is the butt of jokes and viewed as the norm, even though it can still be very upsetting for men. But a bald woman, and I don’t mean a shaved head, a bald woman is a very rare sight on our streets.

Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops and online www.tuamherald.ie