“Should I suggest that my daughter wear a wig?”

By February 27, 2013 Uncategorized 10 Comments

maddie hat Question: My daughter Gracie is 3 ½.  She doesn’t quite realize yet that she has alopecia, but I am worried about her self-esteem. She is getting older and I know any day now she might look in the mirror and start wanting to know why she is missing patches of hair. I believe she is starting to know something about her hair isn’t right. She’s been making comments like, “I want long pretty hair like mommy’s,” “I don’t like my hair,” and “Why can’t my hair be put in a ponytail?” She is extremely smart and loves getting ready for school, doing all the girly things. I’m doing everything for her as if she doesn’t have a hair loss problem, but I really want to be prepared for the day when she starts asking questions.  Once the day comes to actually tell her she has alopecia areata, if she takes it badly, I was thinking about bringing up the subject of a wig. Is she too young to wear a wig? Or should I wait on the wig and try another way to help her? If you think I should wait and try a different solution, what would you suggest?

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Ashley, Buffalo, NY

 

Answer: There are many varying opinions about the subject of wigs and hair systems, but I definitely think that Gracie is a little bit young for a wig.   Maddie was 5 when she first started to lose her hair.  My husband and I were so worried about Maddie being bullied or teased that in addition to wanting to try every treatment we could get our hands on, we also encouraged her (naively) to wear hats and bandanas in the beginning.  Unfortunately, we now think we caused her to feel like she needed to cover up.  But then one day it all came to a head because she was playing an indian in a play and didn’t want to wear a hat or bandana under her head-dress.  So my husband suggested going in to school and talking to her kindergarten class.  He ended up talking to the whole school, and the response was incredible.  She received and still receives (9 years later) much support from her school, classmates, and parents.

When she was younger, she had a few wigs, which she enjoyed playing with, but she goes “bald” everywhere and holds her head high.  People respond well to her sense of self-confidence. When asked about her wigs a few years ago, she responded, “Sometimes I use them as accessories, like hats and scarves and jewelry.”  And today, she wears lots of accessories, but she chooses not to wear wigs.

The most important advice I can give you (and I can tell that you know this already) is to remind your daughter every day that she is beautiful with or without hair.  We all have different limits as to what we need to do to feel certain that we have turned over every stone.  I often say that when there is a cure, we will be first in line, but in the meantime, we want Maddie to know that she is beautiful with or without hair.  I am not against treatments or wigs or even covering up, but I fear that sometimes they get in the way of acceptance.  There may come a time when your daughter asks you about a wig, but until then I would not suggest it. Let it be her idea or she might get the idea that you want her to wear a wig.

Keep your chin up, and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

10 Comments

  • Hi this is Rebecca,

    I just read your story about your daughter Gracie. My daughter Brooke is 31/2 to and has alopecia totalis and is asking me then same exact questions.Thank you for your post, it got a lot of my questions answered.

  • Marianne says:

    My grandaughter who will be three this month has been steadily loosing her hair for months. While we don’t suggest she cover her head on a regular basis, wearing a sun hat, bandana, or wig is advised when outdoors. Sunburns are painful and have long-term effects on the skin. My daughter-in-law also has alopecia and has lost the hair on her head while she was pregnant with my grand daughter. Family can be mean and uncaring. Her father often said my son was causing his daughter’s hair to fall out. My granddaughter now looks more like her mother than her grandmother with curly hair. She is remains unphased by loosing her hair, for now.

  • Dee Middleton says:

    I too have a young alopecian. We decided to look into wigs at the age of 5, just to see what is out there. For Michigan Residents we found Wigs 4 Kids. They are an amazing organization dedicated to serving children of Michigan. Much like Maddie, my Ella views her wig as an accessory. She goes to school sometimes with hair, and sometimes without. We encourage her to be confident both ways. Good luck in your decision!

  • Dena says:

    I say follow your daughter lead. When my daughter first started losing her hair at 5 we bought a ton of hats and bandanas and she never really wore any of them. I honestly thought I was making her feel better, but at her age she just didn’t really care. I noticed the stares and it made me feel uncomfortable, but she never paid much attention to it. Then everyone started saying I should get a wig when she lost all her hair, so I would have one in case she wanted one. So we bought a wig. She came home and decided it was hot and itchy and goes without it. She is even performing in her dance recital in a few weeks and has no desire to wear the wig. She is fine just the way she is. I did notice she felt a little left out when everyone was talking about hair at the Christmas recital. So we went down and let her get a manicure since we couldn’t fix her hair. She was thrilled. She just wanted to feel special, so we found something to make her feel like a princess. Other times we have put on temporary tattoos on her head. Her friends love it when she does that. My best advice is to try and not stress about what is going on. Always be honest and let her know she is beautiful. I think a lot of times we stress more as parents because we are thinking about the future, where kids are just living in the now.

  • Keyla says:

    It’s a rielef to find someone who can explain things so well

  • Oakley M Frame…

    Children’s Alopecia Project » “Should I suggest that my daughter wear a wig?”…

  • Shannon Bark says:

    I’d say no. I’ve had it since I was 10. And at first I thought that wigs would be better but I learned to love myself for who I am. I suggest that if she wants a wig get her one but if she doesn’t don’t. The way I did it is I have one blond wig, my ‘normal’ wig. I’m hoping to save up for my ‘fun’ wig. Wigs tend to be itchy so remember to get a little cap that will go over her head so it doesn’t irritate her skin. Good luck and always remember, god made certain people with perfectly round heads. The others have hair :)

  • Sandcover says:

    I stumbled on this site when i began researching hair loss in children. I have a 22 month old daughter who is starting to “shed”. I, myself, have suffered with Alopecia Universalis since i was 2 years old. I am now 33. I don’t know what it is like to have hair so to see a hair on her pillow can be really upsetting. I know some shedding is normal but it is very scary for me. I know this is very selfish to say but i have gone through this once already and i am not sure i can do it a second time.

    I was lucky growing up. I was a very happy child despite being different. I had lots of friends and never really felt an outsider. I started wearing wigs when i was 12 years old and haven’t stopped since. I grew up in a very small place so everyone knew my situation and when i moved away i could finally just be “normal”. No one knew i wore a wig and i still live the “double life”, so to speak. In many ways a wig was the answer for a confused teenager just trying to get by but it also made me petrified that people would find out. If my daughter loses her hair i think that i will leave the option up to her after telling her what i know about wigs.

    My husband reminds me everyday that no matter the outcome we will love her unconditionally and treat her no differently..It took me a long time to accept my fate and i wouldn’t wish it on anyone. To have my daughter go through this breaks my heart.

  • KKmom says:

    I have a 6-yr girl who’s on her way to be totally bald. She started shedding 3 months ago and lost more than half of her hair already. I’ve thought about wigs (many family and friends suggested it) and decided to let her take the lead. I’m glad to have my view confirmed here.

  • Bonnie Kellogg says:

    Thank you so much for the post, it offers so much encouragement. My sweet baby was just diagnosed a few months ago, she is 3 1/2 and we are headed towards totalis. All the suggestions of how to deal with this condition in such a positive way are so refreshing. I don’t want my baby to feel like she needs to hide behind a hat or a wig. This post gives me so much joy. Hair can just be an accessory. Love, love, love it!!!!

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