In my book, The Other Side of the Mirror, the main character is dealing with an autoimmune skin disease called Alopecia Areata. It causes hair loss on various parts of your body. “Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system mistakes the normal cells in your body as foreign invaders and attacks these cells.” What causes alopecia areata. For my character Volana, she has hair loss on her scalp at the back of her head. Volana’s parents noticed these symptoms when she was in primary school. There were small patches of at the back of her head, but then the hair grew back after a couple months. Unfortunately, the symptoms came back after she graduated university. More hair falls out this time and most of the bottom half of her hair is gone. Her parents, thinking it’s genetic, tells her she is adopted. She has a challenging time dealing with this. As a Queen, all eyes are on her and she is afraid of being ridiculed and embarrassed over her hair loss. She starts wearing head scarfs which is normal in a lot of African countries so no one suspects much. Though, there are some people who are suspicious of her reasoning for wearing the scarves on and off.
Alopecia is not exactly inherited. There may be a parent with alopecia, but it doesn’t mean the child will too. In my story, Volana’s mother also has alopecia and I did that to make the story a little more interesting. Environmental factors also play a part in whether a person will develop it. There isn’t a cure for this disease, but people do try different medications and natural herbs to help with hair growth. Depending on a person’s level of alopecia, they may have total hair loss all over their body, or just in one place. It is possible for hair to grow back. Some people with total hair loss on their scalp wear wigs or scarves/bandannas. For Volana, the third time around, the hair on her scalp doesn’t grow back as quickly as before and she learns to accept herself even without most of her hair.
Next Wednesday’s topic is on Gangs and how they operate for my story, Deeper into Danger.