A new study has indicated that the psychosocial impact of alopecia or baldness is highly prevalent in today’s society. According to the study — published in the Journal of Dermatological Reviews — that ascertained the impact of alopecia or hair loss on the quality of life among adults in India, many of the questionnaire respondents “reported feeling ashamed, embarrassed, frustrated, humiliated, or annoyed due to alopecia”.
Out of 800 patients above 18, 442 were males and 358 were females. Based on the data, it was noticed that in the age group of 18-30 years, 30 per cent males and 27 per cent females reported hairfall issues which “impacted their social life such that they avoided socialising”.
For the unversed, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that “clumps the size and shape of a quarter”, according to WebMD.
Notably, the loss of hair along with thinning, loss of volume, or/and baldness has for ages been associated with stereotypical standards around an individual’s beauty and outward appearance.
Dr Debraj Shome, cosmetic surgeon, co-founder, The Esthetic Clinics, and the co-author of the study noted that approximately, 50 per cent of men and women irrespective of their age are affected by alopecia “due to several factors such as physical, chemical, hormonal changes, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, congenital diseases, infections, and neoplasms etc”.
Using Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) scale and the Hair‐Specific Skindex‐29 (HSS‐29) scale, the study noted that psychosocial impact of alopecia was greater in women than men. According to the study, the mean DQLI score were 14.57 ± 4.15 in females and 13.15 ± 3.18 in males. The mean HSS‐29 score for women (87.81 ± 15. 65) was significantly more than for men (77.81 ± 13. 28), suggesting that women were more prone to psychosocial effects.
Several individuals associate scalp hair to their individuality and self‐identity, explained Dr Sonal Anand, psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road. “Women are socially cued to relate a full crown with feminism; as such, self doubt can lead to numerous emotional problems. Additionally, the society also associates hair loss with ageing,” she told indianexpress.com.
Notably, the American Hair Loss Association has even recognised it as a serious life‐altering condition that can no longer be ignored by the medical community and society.
“It serves as an essential part of an individuals’ “body image” which can be defined as the perception of esthetics or sexual attractiveness of one’s own body,” notes the study.
Further, the study also called for the need for “equitable and affordable treatment of these patients suffering from alopecia and related mental disorders”.