Addressing Self-Isolation for Kids with Alopecia
Raising children with alopecia can be overwhelming at times. But it’s essential to remember how much more overwhelming, stressful, and upsetting it is for the children. For most children — and even some adults — with alopecia, the typical response to the condition may be to self-isolate and hide. Laura Mathias was 13 when she started losing her hair and didn’t leave her Essex house for six months because of it, hiding her alopecia from the world out of embarrassment. The good news? Now much older and finding value in documenting her condition on social media, Laura feels more comfortable and confident about her difference.
Raising awareness about alopecia is more than just raising funds. Ultimately, we want to live in a world where kids with alopecia thrive in self-love and self-acceptance. Sage Shapiro is a six-year-old from Florida with alopecia whose supportive and loving mom documents her daily ups and downs online. She is confident through her highs and lows, even helping her mom raise funds for the Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP) through a lemonade stand. Some children, however, may stay reserved and timid, resulting in the tendency to shy away and isolate. Today, we’ll look at how parents can be there for kids with alopecia and want to withdraw from everyone else:
Consult a telemedicine provider.
It’s important to note that there are different subtypes of alopecia, and understanding them may be difficult for parents of kids who are just developing alopecia. In some cases, kids may need to see dermatologists for irritation or eczema and therapists that may make the change less stressful or upsetting. Telemedicine is a great alternative to do this, especially if a child has reservations about going outside so much. Many experts are committed to treating alopecia, including dermatologic nurse practitioners. For instance, nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania play a significant role in recognizing the different alopecia symptoms and diagnosing their subtypes.
Some telehealth nurse practitioners in Ohio specialize in sensitive health issues, working with patients struggling with hair loss, acne, and other conditions. They can be practical resources for children and teens struggling with these problems. Their training may also allow them to provide treatment and prescribe necessary medicine or supplements without requiring a child to leave the house when they don’t want to. As parents, you can consult with your nurse practitioner on how best to support your child and ask or clarify any concerns you may have.
Connect with other children with alopecia
While it’s okay to give your child space when they’re having trouble adjusting to the change, it’s also important to remember that the change may be so upsetting to them because they feel too different from their peers. To eliminate this alienating feeling, letting them connect with other children who have alopecia may help them understand and see that they aren’t alone. Go to CapCaresAboutYou.org to help connect children with alopecia with other parents and other CAP kids near them. All of the Cap Kid Groups can be found at CapKid.org. Cap Kid Camps for children with alopecia is a great place to meet other kids living with all forms of Alopecia. This type of camp works because it’s a family camp. The camps are held annually in California, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Rhode Island, and Alopeciapalooza, located on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, and is CAP’s largest camp of the year. All camps can be found at CapKidCamps.org.
Reduce feelings of stress
Finally, it’s important to do what we can to reduce stressors in a child’s environment and generally stressful situations. Some people with alopecia areata associate a new cycle of hair loss after a period of stress, so helping your child be comfortable and manage their anxieties can help them feel less overwhelmed about the changes in their body. Yoga and meditation are good to start, and regular exercise can help relieve tension. It will also keep your child active, increasing quality time with the family. And with enough care from medical professionals, peers, and loved ones, children can eventually find the strength to go back out into the world with their heads held high — whether with alopecia or not.