Matt Lucas health: Bake Off host on his alopecia – ‘I found several hairs on my pillow’

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In his memoir Little Me: My Life from A-Z, Matt revealed he was “knocked down by a car” on a family holiday at the tender age of four years old. Two years later, his hair fell out.

It was 1980 when six-year-old Matt woke up “to find several hairs on [his] pillow”.

“The next day the same thing happened,” he wrote in his book. “Only this time there were a lot more.”

He continued: “By the end of that summer all my hair had fallen out.” Matt was later diagnosed with alopecia areata.

Believed to be a delayed shock response to the car accident, his hair returned – thinner than before – before falling out all over again.

This time, his hair never grew back. It wasn’t until adulthood when another medical practitioner had a different hypothesis.

Fated with the genes responsible for eczema, hay fever and allergies, this doctor believed Matt’s hair loss was a consequence of an “overactive immune system”.

What’s alopecia aerata?

WebMD explained alopecia aerata is an “autoimmune” condition that causes hair to fall out in “clumps”.

This can affect people differently, with some having hair growing back while others don’t.

Specifically, alopecia aereata totalis means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.

Alopecia areata universalis, on the other hand, is the loss of hair over your entire body.

Diffuse alopecia areata is “sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches”.

Meanwhile, ophiasis alopecia areata causes hair loss in a “band shape around the sides and back of your head”.

Those with alopecia areata do have an autoimmune disease whereby the “hair follicles are attacked”.

It’s unknown why this occurs, but it’s thought to be connected to a genetic vulnerability.

Those most vulnerable to alopecia have the following conditions:

  • A family member who has it
  • Asthma
  • Down syndrome
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitiligo

As Matt experienced for himself, Medical News Today confirmed alopecia areata “often develops suddenly, over the course of just a few days”.

There is no cure for the condition, but corticosteroids can be offered by a GP to “suppress the immune system”.

Other prescribed medications that “either promote hair growth or affect the immune system” include the following:

  • Minoxidil
  • Anthralin
  • SADBE
  • DPCP

“Although some of these may help with the re-growth of hair, they cannot prevent the formation of new bald patches,” certified Medical News Today.

Those affected by alopecia may need to take additional precautions against the natural elements.

Suncream would be advised if the head is exposed to sunshine, as well as hats, wigs or scarves.

These items can also be used to help keep the head warm while outside during winter.

See Matt Lucus on Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice, at 8pm on Friday, November 27.

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