By Tamlyn Canham
Actress Altovise Lawrence is getting real about her struggle with hair loss due to alopecia areata.
The autoimmune disorder causes patchy hair loss or bald spots on the head. Altovise says she started losing her hair about 10 years ago.
“I would sometimes wake up and see hair on my pillow,” she revealed on ‘Unpacked with Relebogile Mabotja’. Altovise says she first thought the hair loss was the result of “sleeping rough” or not wearing a doek.
Despite changing to a silk doek, she continued to shed hair. Altovise became concerned when her eyebrows and eventually her eyelashes started to shed.
Her GP thought the hair loss could be caused by stress or a nutrient deficiency.
A dermatologist diagnosed her with alopecia areata in 2018.
“Essentially my follicles are asleep, they are in such a deep sleep where now we have to try things like a topical treatment… to try to and wake up the follicle so it can grow. When I do grow out my hair you will see that there are bits of hair coming out but they’re in such a deep sleep that they can’t actually grow.
“And at the back of my head, there is nothing there, and in the middle of my hair it’s still a deep sleep type of follicle,” she told Relebogile.
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Living with alopecia
Altovise is currently fully bald and wears wigs. She cuts her hair every three days. Altovise auditions for some of her roles bald, but she says it was uncomfortable shedding her eyelashes and eyebrows in the film and TV industry.
“You’ll get on set, and every week I’ve got a different eyebrow shape… it got tough for me because of the work that I do. I also felt uncomfortable. Before I go out, I’m like, as long as I’ve got eyebrows, I’m happy. At this stage, I could give up my eyelashes if I could keep my eyebrows.
“How would you know that I’m angry, how would you know that I am excited, how would you know I am happy? It’s a form of expression, I feel, especially because I use my face to communicate,” she said.
Watch Altovise’s full interview about her hair loss in the video below.