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Guest post from Nadine Dorries, on losing her hair: "it's the last taboo"

(38 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Jun-13 11:46:32



The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries recently discovered that she was losing her hair.

In today's guest post, she describes her feelings of shame at the discovery, and argues that, despite being remarkably common, female baldness is the last taboo.

Read her blog, and let us know what you think. Is this something that has happened to you, or to someone you know? Why is it something that we find so hard to talk about? Share your thoughts on the thread, and if you blog about it, don't forget to post your URL.



"You might notice that your hair brush has more hair on it than usual and you are cleaning it out more often; or maybe when you change your bedding, there is a deposit of hair on your pillow. For some, it happens in the shower, and when you switch the shower off, you lift away the lace veil of hair which is left on your skin.

That had been happening for a while. Not dramatically, but enough to make me pop into a health food shop and buy a bucketful of iron and vitamin supplements with the thought 'that'll sort it' running through my mind.


And then I saw the undisputable evidence that I was no longer just losing my hair, I was going bald.

It was during an ITV News interview with Tom Bradbury and the camera took a shot of the back of my head. And there it was. The size of a 50p. My very own bald patch.

I was immediately swamped with shame, and I cannot explain why.

My daughter took out her iPhone and photographed the back of my head so that I could see the damage for myself - and within minutes I was in tears.

I work in an aggressive male dominated environment, possibly one of the most aggressive in the world. My daughters and I have faced down problems which would have floored Tyson. We are fighters because we had to be - and here was I, the matriarch of my very pragmatic household of three very feminist daughters, crying over my hair.

Why had I been in denial for so long? The photographs revealed that this hadn't happened overnight. My poor daughters had noticed and discussed it amongst themselves - but not with me, because they didn't want to upset me.

And that's it in a nutshell, because there isn't anything we four don't discuss. Female hair loss is the last taboo.

It is important to make the definition here between hair loss due to chemotherapy, which grows back in most cases and female pattern hair loss and alopecia, which in some cases never does.

I am suffering from female pattern hair loss, which is not unlike male pattern baldness. My hair is receding, and at the front and back is now so thin I cannot go out in the sun without a hat; you can see my scalp through my hair, as the picture shows. In addition to this, I suffered a recent dose of stress alopecia, the type which often occurs three months after giving birth and does usually grow back.

I looked a bit deeper into the facts of female hair loss and discovered that, whereas 70% of men suffer hair loss, a massive 40% of women are also affected. But who would know? We never discuss it.

I wrote for a national paper and spoke on the Jeremy Vine show and since then have been inundated with letters and emails from women who have lived through their own dark days of losing their hair with little help.

There is help available, but unfortunately, not a great deal on the NHS. I am being treated by a Harley St trichologist with Dermal HL. It comes highly recommended and has a good track record of effectiveness - but it's only available privately.

No one will be keener than me to see if this treatment works, and I am very fortunate. But I feel it is now my responsibility to campaign for more to be available on the NHS.

It's pointless for GPs to pay for repeated referrals to NHS dermatologists who have no treatment available, and in many cases for anti-depressants to deal with the consequences of female hair loss. For some women, and men, there is alternative help available. GP commissioning groups should consider taking a more innovative and bolder approach, especially in the case of very young women, to purchasing alternative therapies which can help - and that is something I will be working towards.

The proof or not of my treatment will be available to see in a few months. Fingers crossed."

lauradrift19791115 Mon 14-Jul-14 05:25:37

Actually, there's one way to "prevent" hair loss. Nizoral Shampoo is a scientifically proven solution to prevent hair loss because it lowers DHT levels. Not sure if I can post the website, but there are some good articles and information talking about hair loss worth reading at nizoralshop.com (in the news section).

LeGavrOrf Tue 18-Jun-13 12:29:50

It is a shame that treatments are not available,or hard to access.

I suppose treating acne could be seen as cosmetic, yet there has been a lot of progress in treating that in recent years (I remember my brother having to jump through hoops to be taken seriously about his terrible acne for years before he was referred to a dermatologist). Hopefully the same improvements could be made in alopecia treatment.

AnyFucker Tue 18-Jun-13 12:28:42

Ah, yes. That could be it !

LeGavrOrf Tue 18-Jun-13 12:27:50

we must have disagreed with each other about something. Perhaps jam or cream first on scones, or something. grin

PavlovtheCat Tue 18-Jun-13 12:22:28

grin thanks! My hair thinning is made ultra worse by my increasing white hairs which make them look even thinner and sparce. It is crap. But, it's not life threatening, or life changing if I don't want it to be, so I won't let it. It's just how I am. I keep my hair short and style forward to compensate/minimise it.

lynniep Tue 18-Jun-13 12:21:49

I have no idea why she was 'swamped with shame' or why she is stating its the 'last taboo' However if thats how she feels, thats how she feels.

I personally am not ashamed of my hair loss (alopecia areata). Its not my fault its falling out. Nor do I feel its taboo. I have told my friends openly whats happening.

Thats not to say I'm not completely gutted - I have always have lovely hair - very thick and dark only the odd white hair sprouting now and again (although the slight bits of stubble that have grown in front don't look as dark -arrgh!) and now I hate washing it due to the handfuls that I lose.
I also shed all over the house which is pretty unpleasant for my family. I do disguise the smaller areas with fibres - not because I'm ashamed - but because it looks terrible and I am self concious about it. Theres nothing I can do about the larger patch which is entirely hairless, other than to hope its not going to be windy...

I do agree thought that there is minimal help on the NHS. My GP gave me some steroid cream which is disgusting and greasy and which I did not want to apply every day. I am in the fortunate position of having BUPA access through my DH's work, and was prescribed dermovate by the private doctor (who was pretty useless otherwise I have to say - my GP was way more understanding) which is a lotion - and far less hideous to use. (Dermovate) I'm not sure why this was not prescribed at the GP (and I'm not sure if its working either) but I'm going to ask next time I go if its simply not on their 'list' of allowed treatments.

I'd also like to see suggestions of alternative therapies like accupuncture - sadly I'm not covered for this even on private and can't afford it without. I was also offered steroid injections by the private doctor if matters don't improve - this is certainly not an option on the NHS.

I really struggle to understand why some treatments are witheld. Its seen as cosmetic - yes - but then breast implants and tummy tucks are available on the NHS.

AnyFucker Tue 18-Jun-13 12:21:42

No matter who you are and what you stand for, losing your hair must be devastating

Nadine is an attractive woman, and our hair is very much tied up in how we feel about ourselves. I don't care that sometimes she gets my back up, giving someone a kick when they are down is mean.

nenevomito Tue 18-Jun-13 12:20:55

I have been losing my hair for ages now. I hate seeing my head under bright lights as you can see my scalp reflected.

Its a wee bit depressing.

AnyFucker Tue 18-Jun-13 12:19:41

Orf have we ever disagreed about anything ? I am sure we must have, perhaps back in 2009 or summat ? smile

LeGavrOrf Tue 18-Jun-13 12:17:15

I don't like her politics at all, and disagree with her on many things, but I think it is a good idea to highlight female hair loss. A relative had alopecia in the 80s, and it was utterly devastating to her, her strongest emotion was humiliation and shame. I hope that some treatments are made available on the NHS if and when possible.

AnyFucker Tue 18-Jun-13 12:14:26

brew PTC ? smile

PavlovtheCat Tue 18-Jun-13 12:12:16

AF - I know. You are right. Ignore my meanness, I am a big grumpy this week.

yamsareyammy Tue 18-Jun-13 11:54:07

She is campaigning for the treatment to be available on the NHS?

Why is that a problem to you and others?

yamsareyammy Tue 18-Jun-13 11:52:27

I dont understand at all what you are trying to say One.

Onesleeptillwembley Tue 18-Jun-13 10:20:32

MN - what a patronising piece. And from someone I personally would find it hard to define as reputable. Please think about your target audience.

AnyFucker Tue 18-Jun-13 10:05:33

I know, I get that, PTC. But if I could afford private treatment for something like this I would do it too. I do however, detect a tiny frisson of "ha! pore ole you hmm " on here.

yamsareyammy Tue 18-Jun-13 09:58:37

I remember there was a distressing thread on here about a year ago, of a poster whose 6 year old child had alopeca.
And the woman was desperate.
No idea if the poster is still about.
I hope she is reading this thread.

PavlovtheCat Tue 18-Jun-13 09:47:50

mimi have heard about egg encouraging growth/thickening the skin before - I am going to look at those tips!

PavlovtheCat Tue 18-Jun-13 09:46:31

AF my issue is not the hairloss, it's the 'oh I now pay privately at Harley Street, as it's not available on the NHS, aren't I lucky?' attitude I have a problem with. I have sympathy for her losing her hair, but, she is in the fortunate position of being able to get private help and minimise the impact of this, that does not mean she should be smug about it.

I had lots of sympathy for her, up that point in her blog.

Mimishimi Tue 18-Jun-13 06:38:43

My hair was also thinning inexplicably, especially at the front, even with scrupulous vitamin intake. Found it was the 'organic' petroleum free shampoo I was using (others were not much better in other ways ie hair breakage but this one was actually doing something to the follicles) . Now I use a traditional Indian remedy of shikakai and reetha powders (3 tablespoons of each) mixed with hot water to form a paste and then mix in a beaten egg when cooled. You apply it to hair rinsed with lukewarm water and wash out about ten minutes ( if you haven't oiled your hair) to half an hour later (if you have) again with lukewarm water. It's a bit messy but the hair has grown back. If your hair is very oily, you can add 1 teaspoon of amla powder. If it needs a thickening effect, 1 teaspoon of methi powder (fenugreek). For conditioning, 1 tablespoon of chigare powder. All these powders can be bought fairly cheaply at Indian grocery stores etc.

Oiling with coconut oil once a week is also good but if you have very fine hair, only very little is needed.

AnyFucker Mon 17-Jun-13 22:13:37

Does not liking Nadine's politics preclude us from feeling sympathy for her hair loss ?

This thread is rather unpleasant.

Amazinggg Mon 17-Jun-13 22:05:06

Not entirely sure about your 'feminist household' Nadine, it sure doesn't show in your politics...

Knotter Mon 17-Jun-13 22:04:46

I have frontal fibrosing alopecia which is an unusual scarring alopecia which kills the hair follicles so there is no hope of regrowth. It is a receding pattern of baldness which can take 5+inches of hair from the front hairline! So far I have lost my eyebrows, am losing eyelashes and have lost 1-2 inches of hairline. There seems to be no effective treatment. I can now get wigs on the NHS! Woo hoo! hmm. Normally it attacks women after menopause, pity it started in my 30's for me!! Minodoxil etc have no effect on this alopecia. My NHS dermatologist is lovely but can't really help. Yes to ludicrous suggestions of Harley Street hmm!

zigzoo Mon 17-Jun-13 22:02:39

Campaigning for hair loss treatment on the NHS whilst campaigning against sensible sex education and against abortion! shock

www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/20/nadine-dorries-sex-education-bill

Honestly MumsnetTowers - she's not popular here is she hmm - why do you get these people as GuestBloggers? I think it dilutes the brand/power of MN. confused

cinnamontoast Mon 17-Jun-13 21:55:37

I looked up Derma HL - there is no evidence on the net that there have been any independent clinical trials. Honestly, for any woman suffering hair loss, there is a good chance that Minoxidil will prevent further hair loss and might result in some regrowth. It can also make it grow thicker. It's the same as Regaine/Rogaine but if you get it on prescription it will be more effective as it is a higher strength. I think that GPs can give you a private prescription - i.e. you won't get it at an NHS price, but it's still worth it. It's really worth asking for a referral to St Thomas's if your GP won't prescribe it.

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