I’ve been suffering from hair loss for several years, but the symptoms are so bizarre I’m now convinced it’s caused by the heat exhaustion.
I’ve spent a great deal of time over the years trying to explain to friends, family and patients that hair loss is a temporary state, but I can’t seem to get them to believe it.
Even doctors, who have a vested interest in helping patients, have been less than enthusiastic.
As I sat in the chair with my hair in my eyes, my mind raced, thinking: what the hell am I doing?
Why does this happen?
I’m also struggling to explain my body’s reaction to the constant pressure to be thin, which is the same as the pressure to keep my body fat at a constant level.
It’s like a vicious cycle: the more I try to shed my excess weight, the more my body craves the thinness, and the more it feels compelled to eat the same amount of food as I do.
This makes me realise how little I actually know about the condition, let alone its cause.
Facial twitches caused by excessive heat exposure were once considered an uncommon condition.
Today, more than 1.3 million Americans suffer from it, according to the American Association of Dermatologists.
But in my 40s, I discovered that many people who had suffered from facial twitching experienced symptoms before they were even aware of it.
In fact, many had symptoms before the onset of the condition.
For example, I lost my eyelashes when I was five and my face began to change.
My father had similar symptoms in the late 60s, although he was able to maintain a thin appearance.
And even when the symptoms went away, they would resurface when I returned to work or when I started to drink.
So it was no surprise that I had no idea why my hair was so sensitive to the intense heat, but for years I had assumed it was due to my body reacting to a virus.
Now, with my own experience in the clinic, it’s become clear that there’s a genetic component.
After all, I am an extremely thin person and have no genetic predisposition to skin cancer, but when it comes to the condition itself, it turns out my body responds differently.
In my case, the cause is a mutation in a gene called HLA-B27, which encodes for a protein known as an ‘epidermal growth factor receptor’.
Hair cells from my face have this receptor and when exposed to heat, it activates it.
It’s this receptor that is responsible for causing the hair twitches.
These receptors are found on every layer of our skin, from the epidermis to the dermis, but they only activate when exposed specifically to heat.
We know this because researchers have found that those who have an HLA mutation also have more of these receptors than the rest of the population.
There are, however, a number of genetic factors that contribute to the risk of facial twitches, including a number that are present in a large proportion of the people who suffer from the condition and one gene called FTO1, which, when mutated, causes the condition to appear as a ‘flaky’ condition rather than a ‘fuzzy’ one.
Researchers now believe that people who carry a mutation that leads to an abnormal version of this gene also have higher levels of FTO, and that the mutations are passed on to their offspring.
However, my hair has never been the only reason my skin is sensitive to heat and I’m only one person out of millions of people in the world who suffers from facial hair loss.
When I was a teenager, I had an epidermal fibroblastoma, a type of cancer that attacks the skin.
The cancer eventually spread to my scalp, which was then covered in a thin layer of hair, called my “crown”, and my condition continued to progress.
Over the years, I have lost a lot of hair.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve had many treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation.
But my treatment was a complete disaster, because it turned out to be my most successful treatment.
Once the cancer had spread, it was possible to treat the growth with a different gene, which caused the condition’s symptoms to disappear.
By then, however the mutation had been passed on from father to son, I was back to having the same condition.
It was then that I was shocked to discover that my hair would still twinkle in the mirror.
I had been told my hair had gone completely bald.
At first, I thought I was experiencing a viral disease.
But when I noticed my hair began to stand up and look thinner, I realised that I wasn’t just experiencing a rare genetic disorder. A