Seeing someone struggle with alopecia can be difficult even if you do not have it yourself. While hair loss is not a sign of something far more severe and life-threatening, this condition may still affect your loved ones mentally and emotionally. Constantly seeing themselves lose their hair at a possibly rapid pace can be detrimental to their confidence and self-worth. This is the reason why as a family member or friend of someone with alopecia, you need to be able to support them during this difficult time. Here are some ways you can make dealing with their condition easier for them and for your relationship as well.
Educate yourselves about the condition
Once the diagnosis has been made, it’s definitely a good idea to research together and know more about the condition. This is so the both of you will know what to expect apart from the hair loss. You can also research on possible hair loss treatments that they can try. Do note that there are various treatments, both Eastern and Western, and that its effectiveness varies from person to person.
Be sensitive in what you say
There are things that, no matter how well-meaning you want them to be, should never be said to someone suffering from alopecia. For example, saying that it’ll grow back does nothing to alleviate their worries, especially in the face of the possibility of the hair not growing back. Another thing you shouldn’t say is that you are jealous of them because they no longer have to deal with so much hair. Yes, it’s easier for them to manage. Yes, they’re free to choose the wigs and extensions they want. But no, this isn’t preferable for them. They would rather have their own hair back. It’s easier if you communicate with them to know what would be over the line and insensitive to say to them.
Find the right words of encouragement
On the other side of things, knowing what to say to lift their spirits up is a great quality to have as part of their support system. Things such as “You’re beautiful/handsome” or “You’re really brave” said with sincerity and good intentions can do lots to build up their confidence. Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard with it that it feels insincere or you’re treating them like they’re fragile. Completely ignoring their condition and not even wanting to talk about it (when they probably want to sometimes) is also bad. You have to find that balance between normalcy and support in your interactions.
Look for and discuss possible options
Aside from the medical hair loss treatments they can undergo with, you can also look for other options. Perhaps trying wigs or hair extensions would boost their confidence more through channeling their creativity in how they look. Or maybe shaving all of their hair before it falls off can help normalize their condition and make a statement in addition to being more convenient. Whatever it is they would prefer, make sure to discuss it with them and offer opinions as a friend if prompted.
Be there to listen or to be a shoulder to cry on
Lastly, a person with alopecia will definitely have a hard time with their condition. Thus, they may reach out to you to talk about it and vent out their frustrations. When that time comes, always listen to whatever they have to say. Practice empathy and compassion, as well as comprehension when they tell you about their experience. And if they need a shoulder to cry on, be there and assure them that everything will be alright in the end. It’s a small thing but you’re sure to have significantly made their day regardless.
It may be difficult to understand just what a person with alopecia is going through unless you have it yourself. Still, an attempt and willingness to learn what they are going through goes a long way in helping them cope with the condition. Once they recover from it, they’ll certainly be grateful for you and the support you’ve given them.