A young mother who lost 80 per cent of her hair to alopecia in the space of a few months has revealed she was left with no choice but to shave off the remaining strands.
Charlotte Collins, 27, from Leicester, East Midlands, was shocked to discover a bald patch the size of a 50 pence on top of her head in June 2020 after her boyfriend Theo White, 26, spotted it while outdoors.
The mother-of-one was devastated after being diagnosed with alopecia just weeks later and was told the cause was ‘delayed stress’ – despite insisting she’s the ‘happiest she’s ever been’.
Since her diagnosis, Charlotte has claimed to be unable to get a face-to-face appointment with a specialist, leaving her worried the alopecia may be caused by something more serious.
Charlotte Collins, 27, from Leicester, East Midlands, lost 80% of her hair and had a few remaining strands on the top and bottom, leaving her with no choice but to shave her head
Charlotte Collins, picutred before alopecia, had long, thick hair and was devastated when her locks started falling out.
The first bald patch on the top of Charlotte’s head noticed by her partner when they were outdoors
Charlotte, made the decision to shave her head last September and has since been fighting to get seen in person by a specialist.
The removals company boss said: ‘I was in the garden with my boyfriend and the wind blew and he told me I had a bald patch on top of my head.’
‘I rang the doctor and told them and they got me in straight away the next day for blood tests but after they came back all clear, I was diagnosed with alopecia.’
‘My hair was falling out in handfuls – I’ve always had thick, luscious brown hair so this was devastating to me.’
Charlotte’s partner Theo helped her to shave her head after her long, dark locks started falling out, leaving her with huge bald patches
Charlotte said she’s spent hundreds on wigs and hats to cover up her bald head (pictured)
‘I couldn’t wash or brush it because it would just fall out in clumps.’
‘Next I started losing my eyebrows, eyelashes and I just wanted an answer as to why this was happening to me.’
‘The doctors told me it was delayed stress, but I was at the happiest I had ever been and I can’t help but wonder if it’s something more serious that’s causing this.’
‘Since that first appointment, I haven’t been able to see a doctor. My hospital appointments kept getting cancelled.’
Charlotte, pictured before alopecia, was always known for having thick, long hair so it was a shock for her to lose it all so quickly
Charlotte was stressed after her diagnosis, which meant her hair just kept on falling out. Pictured: Charlotte now her natural hair has started to grow back
‘I was left with this devastating information and absolutely no help and had to save up hundreds to buy myself wigs and hats to cover it up’.
Charlotte had long, thick, brunette hair before her diagnosis and was left feeling depressed following her diagnosis.
By September 2020, Charlotte had lost 80 per cent of her hair and had a few remaining strands on the top and bottom, leaving her with no choice but to shave.
Charlotte explained: ‘I’ve always been known for having the thickest, longest hair so it was a shock for me to lose it all so quickly.’
Charlotte had long, thick, brunette hair before her diagnosis and was left feeling depressed following her diagnosis. Pictured, Charlotte before alopecia
Charlotte says the prices of wigs are extreme and it’s upsetting for someone who doesn’t have a massive income. Pictured with a shaved head
When Charlotte first started losing her hair, she started wearing hats all the time. Pictured: The extent of the hair loss Charlotte suffered
To hide it Charlotte wore hats and headpieces, she went into hiding for a year and feels there’s no support for people with alopecia
What is alopecia?
Alopecia, which causes baldness, is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. The immune system – the body’s defense system – turns on itself.
What are the symptoms?
‘Typically, one or more small bald patches, about the size of a 50p piece, appear on the scalp. The hair can start to regrow at one site, while another bald patch develops. Hair may also begin to thin all over the head,’ says Marilyn Sherlock, chairman of the Institute of Trichologists.
What causes it?
‘For some reason, the body’s immune system begins to attack its own hair follicles. Special white blood cells in the body, known as T-lymphocytes, cause the hair to stop growing,’ she adds.
Can worry make it worse?
Stress has been shown to prolong the problem.
Is it an inherited condition?
There is strong evidence to suggest that alopecia, like other auto-immune diseases, runs in families. About 25 per cent of patients have a family history of the disorder.
Who gets it?
Alopecia areata usually affects teenagers and young adults, but it can affect people of any age. It is just as common among men as women.
Is there a cure?
There is no known cure, although there are various treatments which may be effective for some people.
‘When I first started losing my hair, I started wearing hats all the time.’
‘I had never bought a wig in my life so it was daunting.’
‘The prices of wigs are extreme and it’s upsetting for someone who doesn’t have a massive income.’
‘I was more stressed after my diagnosis which meant my hair just kept on falling out and I wasn’t referred to a therapist or counsellor. I went into hiding for a year’.
Charlotte was left frustrated after claiming to have hospital appointments cancelled.
She added: ‘I have a daughter and the thought of her losing her blonde curls would destroy me.’
‘There’s no support for people with alopecia.’
‘I’m convinced I must have some sort of malnourishment or something missing that’s causing me not to develop hair follicles but I’m not able to see a doctor for more investigation.
‘I had an appointment with the hospital that was pushed back four times and this year they cancelled it completely.
‘All I want is to rule out anything that could have caused it and it’s causing me a lot of worry.
‘One 15 minute doctors appointment wasn’t enough to suffice what I’ve lost.
Charlotte’s hair has started growing back slowly and she now has three cm of hair. Pictured with the new growth
Before Charlotte’s boyfriend shaved her hair, she cut two little plaits to keep as a keepsake and still has them in a box. Pictued: Charlotte and her partner Theo after shaving her head
‘I made the decision to shave my head after waiting for a dermatologist to call and never hearing from them.’
‘I was frustrated but it was the best decision I could have made at the time – it was a weight lifted off me.’
‘Before my boyfriend shaved it, I cut two little plaits to keep as a keepsake and I still have them in a box.’
‘It was emotional and sentimental and I was in shock for quite a while after doing it’.
Charlotte was left frustrated after claiming to have hospital appointments cancelled. Pictured: Charlotte also opted to wearing wigs
No hair will grow where the 50 pence patch started and now Charlotte calls for GPs to start seeing people face to face again
Since then, Charlotte’s hair has started growing back slowly and she now has three centimetres of hair.
She said: ‘I have been getting Indian head massages every night which I think has really helped my hair to grow back.’
‘No hair will grow where the 50 pence patch started.’
‘I want to see more bald models for high street and online stores.’
‘You see all the diversity when it comes to skin colour and weight size but for hair, you hardly see any bald models and I think it’s important for young people to have role models to look up to.’
‘GPs need to start seeing people face to face again – it’s frustrating for me to be left alone to deal with this’.