footballersIn an article in the New Statesman on April 17th 2016 Hunter Davies ruminates about the reasons sportsmen find it difficult to accept losing their hair. He pokes fun at the vanity and pride of some contemporary football stars whilst acknowledging that show business personalities may want to hide their baldness as they regularly appear on TV.

He holds up Antonio Conte (the new boss of Chelsea) as an example of someone who is trying to maintain his youthful looks, but actually attracts derision from the Italian fans and media.

Dressing Room Pressure

Delving deeper into the issue he concludes that baldness is perhaps associated with ageing for many sportsmen. This may result in ribbing in the dressing room, being called “Grandad” etc. or may actually have a material effect on the player’s career, by creating the impression of aging prematurely.

Whatever the case it’s clear that the psychological impact of hair loss does not just affect show business personalities and sportsmen. Whilst hair loss has few physical harming effects the consequences on a patient’s mental health can be significant with high levels of anxiety and depression.

Psychological disorders are more common in men suffering from alopecia areata (a chronic dermatological disorder in which people lose some, or all of the hair on their head). Most research indicates that alopecia patients have high levels of anxiety and depression, whilst also being prone to low self-esteem, poor quality of life and poor body image. In some cases patients experience an ongoing feeling of loss, equated to grieving.

The Distress of Fruitlessly Searching for a Cure

The constant search for a cure can also leave patients very distressed and Doctors should be aware that constantly trying to treat the condition with limited effectiveness can actually have a detrimental effect on the patient’s mental health.

Whilst the Italian fans and media may enjoy sniggering at a manager, trying to retain his youthful looks, it’s worth remembering that hair loss can have a very real effect on a person’s general well-being, regardless of their profession.

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By Ian Watson

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