By Maria Famakinwa
Mrs Opeyemi Olaolu (not real name) a 48-year-old graduate of Mathematics Education was born with full hair like most children, her full long hair was cherished by many as she grow until age 10 when she started plating her hair. “My mother told me that she stopped plating my hair when she discovered that it was shedding off from the front and since then, my hair has continued to remove until when I became completely bald.
“It was so sad for me that despite using different hair creams prescribed by dermatologists, none was able to address the problem. My university days was tough because I put on wig throughout except when It was dark. Some of my friends who got to know also read different meanings to it. My baldness made love difficult to find as I experienced broken relationships five times before I finally married at age 44. One of the men who disappointed me after dating for four years said that even though he loved me because I was caring, his mother warned him that ladies who suffer baldness are under spiritual attack. Thank God, I finally married four years ago and blessed with two children. Women with baldness are facing serious challenges.
“Mothers should seek dermatologists advice before plating their female children’s hair because my mother was told by experts that if she had consulted them before plating my hair, they would have advised her against it due to the nature of my hair scalp” she advised.
Another victim of baldness (Alopecia) A teacher, Mrs Glory said that she had nice black long hair until she changed her hair relaxer which cut off her hair. “ I began to lose my beautiful hair seven years ago due to a particular hair relaxer that I applied on my hair. I thought it was a joke initially but took it seriously when my hair was half bald. My efforts to correct it cut off everything and made my hair bald.
“I don’t like wearing wigs but with my present situation, I have no choice. At times, I would need to get fresh air but ashamed to let people see my baldness. Some of my neighbours who knew about my challenges make jest of me. Some even tagged me a witch. A friend once advised me to visit a medical doctor because my sudden hair lost might be an early sign of a terminal disease. I went to the hospital and was told to carry out some tests after which it was discovered that I had no any terminal ailment. Hair, they say is women’s pride, how come l lost my own pride at the age I needed to flaunt it? I regretted the day I changed my hair relaxer to the one that shaved off my hair completely. I have been telling those who care to listen to stop using hair relaxer they don’t know much about because most of them have serious effects on ones hair.”
A businesswoman, Mrs Foluke Olutoba, 64, also had her struggles trying to figure out what the issue was as soon as she discovered some round patches on the side of her hair six years ago. The woman who disclosed that she had no idea that the situation would make her lose her hair eventually lamented that she had spent huge amount of money to regain her lost hair to no avail.
Her words: “I started noticing some patches on my head six years ago and I met with an expert who prescribed a particular hair cream to me, I used it for some time and stopped when there was no improvement. Battling with a disease that people weren’t familiar with was a serious problem. I didn’t know what causes it, neither did any of my family member. Some people who believe that I am under spell laugh me to scorn. No one wants to come near me. I am stigmatized on a daily basis. The last dermatologist I met two years ago told me that it was a genetic factor and there is nothing I can do than to accept my fate.
“You hardly see me without covering my head, yet I was told to always allow fresh air on it but what can I do? Some people don’t pray to see me first in the morning. I have a pure heart, but a victim of unknown disease. I am the only one facing this predicament in my family and I don’t know the way out. If I have money, I would have gone for hair planting as advised by some people. Honestly, using my situation to stigmatize me is affecting me psychologically.
Also battling baldness, is a self employed graduate, Aminat Babalola, who started losing her hair after she returned from her youth service. The mother of two who blamed her hair lost to the hot weather condition in the North where she observed her one year service added that she gave up hope when she had tried every solution to no avail.
She said: “The only symptom I noticed was a small, round patch at the lower right side of my head. It was as if someone shaved the part with a blade. That was the only symptom I noticed and my hair started removing until I had no hair again. I still consider myself lucky that I have completed my university education before losing my hair otherwise, I would not have been able to cope giving the rejection from students.”
On the medical steps taken for solution, Aminat said that doctors discovered the disease to be alopecia (loss of hair) but that she was tired of using different ointment on her head since they offer no solution. “Though, dermatologists made me to understand that it was not hot weather condition of where I observed my one year compulsory service that caused my hair loss but due to a medical condition called alopecia.
“However, I want to blame the problem on different hair styles I love to do then. I could remember that two months to my passing out, I made Ghana weaving hair style that after loosing it, my front hair shed off. That might also be a factor. People stigmatized me. Some said it was a taboo for women to go bald. Some even asked me if I am into occultist society. I am wrongly accused, called witches because of my baldness. Even though I use to cover my head, at times, I like to leave it open for fresh air. People should understand that women battling baldness are not witches but victims of circumstances. They should stop stigmatizing against us since we don’t know who the next victim would be,” she said.