A hairy affair

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By Wong Sher Maine

Ms Lee’s hair mysteriously fell out two years

ago, leaving her bald. She is now growing her

locks back, thanks to treatment at CGH.

It is a nightmare many of us ladies would dread – finding a

coin-sized bald patch on the scalp before the hair steadily

drops off for no apparent reason.

It was a bolt from the blue for housewife Ms Lee, 49,

when she suddenly found herself balding mysteriously two

years ago.

She recalled: “The fan would blow at me and my hair would

just fly away.” It was not just the hair on her head which fell

off; she also shed her eyebrows, eyelashes, nostril hair and

some of the hair on her arms.

There were no clear answers. The doctors she first

approached at the National Skin Centre told her that she had

a hair loss condition called alopecia totalis, in which her

immune system could be attacking her own hair follicles.

But as she could not endure the chemical treatments at the

centre, which left an unbearable itch on her scalp, she soon

resigned herself to living without hair.

“It’s nothing drastic, it’s just hair,” said Ms Lee. Her

children and her husband were similarly non-plussed.

She started going around with a bandanna tied around her

head. At formal events, she would don a wig.

Then at the beginning of this year, she realised that her

eyelashes had regrown. She decided to give treatment

another shot and was recommended to Changi General

Hospital where she saw Dr Lynn Teo, Consultant for


Dr Teo conducted lab tests on Ms Lee to make sure that

she had no underlying medical problems or deficiencies

in vitamins and minerals, before proceeding with weekly


Dr Teo explained that alopecia areata (a milder variation

of alopecia totalis) strikes about 3.8% of the Singapore

population, according to a 2002 study. “There is a

suggestion of brain-skin connection, that is, increased stress

may precipitate the condition. Stress can be in the form of

stress on the body such as infections or trauma,” she said.

Dr Teo has been conducting a weekly treatment for

Ms Lee, with good results. Ms Lee’s eyebrows grew back

and in a few months, the hair on her scalp had reached an

inch in length. The aim, said Dr Teo, is for full regrowth,

which usually requires about four to six months of therapy.

“My hair is still patchy,” said Ms Lee, “but I’m very happy.

My son keeps touching my head to say that my hair is like

baby hair!”

She added: “It helped that I had always felt very encouraged

by Dr Teo.”

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