Navigating Quality-of-Life Challenges with Alopecia Areata

14-year-old Peyton, a patient with alopecia areata, comments on the difficulties she’s encountered and how her diagnosis actually improved aspects of her life.

Peyton: One of the most significant challenges was just the social awkwardness. When I see little kids, they're new to the world. They don't understand what could make somebody offended or what's nice to say in a social situation. Before the pandemic when we were out and about and seeing strangers all the time, you end up with these situations where they're like, hey, that girl is bald, and that was a weird thing to go through. My school did a good job of preparing my classmates, preparing the rest of the school by saying she's wearing a wig. It's totally normal for her hair to just suddenly be longer, because my old hair shorter and my wig came down a lot longer. They did a good job with that. And I know that a lot of other kids don't have that situation, they just had to come to school wearing a hat or something and nobody would know what's going on. Entering back into a situation where you were previously comfortable and now it's a little awkward because now you're bald, that was one of the things I had to deal with the most.

It hasn't affected my quality of life too much. In fact, in some respects, it's made it better. I would have started competitively swimming if I didn't have alopecia because, competitive swimming, there's a lot of stuff you have to do with your hair. Because if you've got a lot of hair on your body, you probably should shave it off, maybe it gets you two-tenths of a second. You must wear the swim caps; you have to take good care of your hair because every day you're going to swim practice and getting it all soaked in chlorine. Not having hair was great for competitive swimming. You can just put on a swim cap, and you don't even need to put on a swim cap, get in the water, and you're totally fine. In aspects like that, with swimming and just in general, getting ready in the morning, it makes things a lot easier.

Transcript lightly edited for clarity.