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The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm


Monday, 23 November 2009

We are joined in studio by Orla Murphy who suffers from Alopecia. Orla has had alopecia since she was 7years old and is a fantastic role model for women who are going through the same thing. Some people are experiencing alopecia for the first time due to the everyday stresses that are a direct result of the economic downturn.

Trichologist Deborah Whelan from the Galway Trichology Clinic has noticed a 20% increase in stress related hair loss complaints in the past 12 months. Both men and women are visiting her clinic and expressing their concerns about the future. She will explain how this anxiety is revealing itself in the form of hair loss.

Orla Murphy -Physiotherapist

Orla is a 31 year old physiotherapist and has been married for two years.

When Orla was 7 years old she developed a patch on the crown of her head. As she got older she developed more patches and these joined together. Up until the age of 18 her hair growth was sporadic and would come and go. Since about 18 she hasn't really had any hair at all and has been wearing a wig for the past 10 years.

Her advice to people who have just been diagnosed is to seek advice. There are many treatments but there are also many options. Visit one of the wig specialists while you still have your hair so they can match up the colour to your natural hair. You can dye the skin on the scalp if you have patches and this makes it less noticeable and also adapt your make-up.

Deborah Whelan - Trichologist from the Galway Trichology Clinic.

Patients have been mentioning the downturn in the economy for some time as a contributing factor in their alopecia/ hair loss but in recent months Deborah has met people whose lives have been turned upside down.

There are approximately 50 causes or types of hair loss, Telogen Effluvium
is one of them. This type of hair loss is very alarming as it has a dramatic and sudden onset - up to two thirds of the hair can be lost in a diffuse pattern.

One of the most common causes of this condition is shock or stress and life changing
events. Deborah is seeing many people suffering with this condition as a direct result of the downturn in the economy.

Most forms of alopecia and scale conditions (some of which cause extensive
hair loss) are also exacerbated by stress.

1. On a very basic level, what is Alopecia?
Alopecia is a blanket term for hair loss. There are approx fifty types and causes of hair loss. Some are a result of hair falling out early in the growth cycle (Alopecia Areata and Telogen Effluvium), others are caused by a change in the coverage that each shaft gives as the hairs get shorter and thinner (Androgenetic Alopecia) and there may be a general lack of growth due to poor nutrition.

2. What causes Alopecia - hereditary V. non hereditary?
Common causes of alopecia are:

This has a sudden onset and one of the most alarming forms of hair loss and can lead to the loss of up to two thirds of the hair in a diffuse pattern. An emotional or physical shock, ongoing stress, crash dieting, bereavement, marriage and divorce, exams, fever, certain medications.

Hair loss after pregnancy. This affects most women to some degree, often it is only a light shedding but for some it can be severe. It is caused by hormonal changes.

This is an inherited form of hair loss. It is a progressive diminishing of the cosmetic value of the hair shafts on the top of the head leading to an increase of the visability of the scalp.

A poor diet or low iron can lead to non replacement of hairs at the end of a cycle growth.

ALOPECIA AREATA (May lead to Totalis or Universalis)
There is a genetic predisposition for this condition. For many people the trigger for the appearance of a patch will be stress or a shock


Certain hair styles can cause hair loss due to a tight pulling of the shaft.

3. Can it happen to anyone at any stage in their lives?
Most of us will experience hair loss at some point in our lives.

4. Is it more common in men or women?
It is said that one in three women and two in three men will experience hair loss.

5. For women, can it be hormone related?
Any hormonal imbalance, starting or stopping birth control pills and the onset of the menopause can cause hair loss in women.

6. How long can a bout of alopecia last?
Alopecia can be short term or lifelong.

7. Are there any warning signs or can it happen suddenly?
Hair loss can happen overnight. It can be slow progressing or very sudden and alarming. For patchy hair loss many people experience a tingling itchy feeling before the appearance of a new patch.

8. If it is caught early can it be prevented from becoming more serious?
The earlier the hair loss is treated the better the outcome generally.

9. Can it be cured or is it something that once you have it can recur?
There are so many causes and types of hair loss, it is important to get a diagnosis early. Many people simply need advice. Treatment can speed up the re-growth of new hair and reduce thinning. Hair responds to every adverse change in our lives.

10. What are the different types that are most common?
Telogen Effluvium- sudden diffuse shedding is the condition I am consulted about most.

Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis are the same condition, just different levels of loss.

Post Partum Alopecia. This usually occurs from three months after the pregnancy and is more severe if the pregnancy is problematic or if there is alot of stress in the months after the birth. It is caused by hormonal changes.

11. Is it linked to stressful situations and/or what are the most common reasons for hair loss?
People who have financial difficulties, people who are experiencing sleep disruption through worrying about losing their home or job and those who are working harder and resting less. Any sudden adverse change can cause hair loss. Many parents are worried for their children. Alot of younger people say that they feel that the rug has been pulled from under their feet with the speed of the changes and are really nervous about the future.

12. In your own clinic have you noticed a rise in the number of people with alopecia?
I have noticed a rise of approximately 2o% in stress related complaints in recent months.

13. What are the treatments?
Trichologists study hair loss for four years and can supply treatments. There are treatments available from chemists, many are topically applied and easy to use.

14. Are their any herbal or relaxational techniques?
Accupuncture, body massage and yoga can aid relaxation.

. 65% of Deborah's clients are women
. 1 in 3 men suffer from alopecia.
. 2 in 3 women suffer from alopecia.

Additional / Misc' Info:
For more information please visit:

Deborah works at the Galway Trichology Clinic:
Unit 2, Forster Court, Galway.
T: 091 565148
M: 087 0535046

For more information on Bioxsine:

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For further information please contact:
Lisa McDonald
Slattery Communications
T: 01 6614055
M: 086 9581554

Orla gets her wigs from Roches Hair Solutions:
153 Lower Kimmage Road
Dublin 6W

T: 01 492 6829