One of the challenges of living with alopecia areata is letting those close to us know what we need. No matter how much someone may care about you, they don’t always understand the best way to support you. So you need to tell them. But because that’s not always the easiest thing to do, we’ve put together this list of tips as a way to start the conversation. Or to avoid it — simply giving it to your husband, sister, friend or co-worker to read may be enough. Especially if you tell them “These are things I’ve thought of saying but didn’t quite know how.” Even if that’s not completely true, it’s a great roadmap for how you’d like them to behave in the future.
Tips on Supporting a Friend or Loved One with Alopecia Areata
Be a genuine friend who understands that sometimes she just needs to talk — and is not looking to you for a solution.
Respect her loss.
Steer clear of well-meaning comments like “It’s only hair” or “At least it’s not cancer.”
Don’t blame stress.
A common misconception is that alopecia is caused by stress. While stress can SOMETIMES be a trigger — as can illness, wedding plans and a million other things — more often it is not. Either way, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether the hair will grow back.
Remind her she’s great.
Help her remember all the positive qualities that you and others love about her — qualities that have nothing to do with her hair.
Help her help others.
Encourage her to volunteer by suggesting you do something for others together. The best way to feel better about yourself, and less self-conscious, is by focusing on someone else who needs your help.
And when all else fails . . .
Ask her what you should do.
Turn the tables and ask how she would react if you were the one with alopecia. It’s a graceful way of letting her tell you what she needs.
So when you have alopecia, remember: positive reinforcement is key. When your husband (or sister or friend) does come through for you, let them know it! Try saying things like:
It’s a relief to be able to vent to you.
I always feel better when you drag me out shopping.
It makes my day when you say I look pretty.
I forget I have AA when we’re alone together.
It cracks me up when you say “when we’re old and gray.”
It helps that you sometimes bring up AA before I do.
Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let us know so we can share them. We’d love to hear from you!