Treating the medical and emotional effects of alopecia
Deirdre Nero's story
I’ve had alopecia areata — an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and body — for almost 20 years.
It’s a really unpredictable disease. For some people, alopecia can happen really quickly — they could have a full head of hair one day and by the following week, they could be completely bald. I had patchy alopecia on my head for about ten years before it progressed to complete hair loss. At first, I just had little spots of hair loss that I could hide, but then it became more difficult to cover up.
The patient's perspective
Video narrated by Deirdre Nero, Coral Gables, Florida, who has had alopecia areata for over 20 years.
The unpredictable nature always had me in a state of anxiety. My dermatologist, Dr. Stacy Chimento, has been so helpful both medically and emotionally. She is very aware of the depression and anxiety that people with alopecia experience, and that is incredibly helpful. It’s really important to feel comfortable speaking with your dermatologist about the more personal aspects of the disease.
Dr. Chimento has helped me feel more like myself. She has been very compassionate and has helped regrow my eyebrows, which for me was a big deal. Your eyebrows help give expression to your face, so when I lost them, I didn’t even recognize myself, and that was really hard for me. Now I look in the mirror and think, “Okay, hi, there you are.”
It’s been a relationship that I appreciate and value.
The dermatologist's perspective
“I started seeing Deirdre in the later phases of her condition. We’ve worked together for four years and have pursued treatments that really benefit her emotionally. Because there is no cure, I use a holistic approach and work closely with psychiatrists to help my patients with any depression and social phobia they may have. A large and important component of treating alopecia is treating related anxiety and depression.”
─ Stacey Chimento, MD, FAAD Dermatology Associate at Diane Walder, MD, PA, Miami, Florida