LOSING your hair can be a traumatic experience when you’re older, but imagine you face that possibility as a teenager.
For Emma Turner, 19, that is exactly what she deals with on a daily basis.
Aged just 16, Emma was diagnosed with incurable hair loss condition alopecia.
But she said the biggest challenge she faced was a lack of support, and with her mum Jackie Ward-Prowse, she has set up a group.
Emma said: ‘From a young age we always joked about how I had a bit of a funny hairline, but we never thought anything more of it.
‘When I was 16 I found a pound coin-sized lump of hair had fallen out and I had a little bald patch.
‘It got bigger and another one appeared on the other side of my head.
‘I showed my parents and we were confused by what was happening.’
Emma had tests before specialists diagnosed her with alopecia areata, which means her hair can fall out in patches anywhere on her body.
It is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system where the body rejects hair growth.
Emma, of Havant Road, Farlington, wears a wig and said she has come to terms with her diagnosis, but wants to help others dealing with hair loss.
Emma, who is training to become a veterinary nurse, said: ‘The hair loss is unpredictable, so I lose it but then it can also start to grow back again. I was told I could go on steroids to try and help.
‘Other than my alopecia there’s nothing wrong with me and I’m healthy, so I don’t see why I should take medication that could affect me in another way.
‘I was really devastated when it all happened. I’m a young girl and of course love to dress my hair.
‘But wearing a wig means I can do that and it makes me feel comfortable and get a boost of confidence from it.
‘I can take my wig off still and always do when I get home.
‘But I want to give other people the same sort of confidence and that they don’t feel judged.
‘For me, the biggest thing I felt after my diagnosis was how there wasn’t anyone to talk to who had gone through something similar.’
Emma, whose brother James plays football for Southampton, found help through Alopecia UK.
Jackie said: ‘I’m so proud of Emma and how she is handling all of this.
‘We want to start a support group for people suffering hair loss and if they want to come to our March meeting then they can.’