Out, damned spot! 

​When I was little I thought I knew what stress was. I’ve gotten upset because my toy was taken and complained to my mom about teenage frustrations by saying “Ugh! I’m so stressed out.”

For a few weeks my hair began to grow back, but after it started to fall out in clumps, leaving shiny, loonie-sized spots on my head. I had no idea why. 

At first I blamed my curling iron, thinking that I’d singed it right off. Have you seen this girl? Yeah, I thought it was that, except right to my scalp.

I had a hair appointment the day after I found a spot. Laughing off the curling iron incident, I warned the stylist about what she would find. As she worked, she pointed out another three spots on the other side of my head. She said: “Don’t stress out over this, but a man was in here with the same thing a while ago. Turns out he had alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. He didn’t get it looked at or treated fast enough and ended up needing to get steorid injections into his scalp. It looked terrible.”

“Don’t stress over this… but….” Well, who wouldn’t silently freak out after hearing that? I went to the walk-in clinic immediately after. The doctor told me it was nothing to worry about, that hair grows in phases, and ordered some blood tests get done just in case. I procrastinated for a few days because I don’t like blood or needles. Eventually I went and the results came back fine. But more spots were showing up.

Then I blamed tight ponytails, my shampoo, antibiotics I had taken a month prior for a month-long cold, and dry shampoo. 

Eventually I blamed my birth control. I went back to the walk-in clinic a week later, hoping that the hair would start growing again and stop falling out. It didn’t. It fell out for a good three months. The doctor prescribed a cream and said he’d refer me to a specialist. I never got a follow-up call. 

I wore my hair in a ponytail to cover the nine spots, didn’t straighten my locks or blowdry them for five months. My hair felt disgusting. I felt disgusting. Thank God for hairspray, though. 

Finally, one day when I was scratching my head, I realized that the fingers on my right hand lined up perfectly with the five spots that went down my right part. Ahh… that’s got to be it.

I had scratched the hair right out of my head. I don’t actually remember doing it, but it seems that I have a nervous itch, or five, or nine. Four to five months later, the spots are growing back in with such blonde hair that the spots still look bald. And (random, fun fact), I have kinky little hairs in between my long straight ones which really helps to add volume but they’re a real pain to straighten!

Moral of the story, I don’t recommend scratching your skin if you’re stressed, nervous or anxious. Find a rubber band, and stretch it until it breaks. Find a box of rubber bands and make one of those rubber band balls. Cut your nails if you have to. 

Word from experience: Whatever it is, stop worrying about it. This too shall pass. Also, don’t pay more than $40 for a haircut. 

Looking for ways to destress? Try these out:


    1. Glad you finally got an answer. Could you be scratching in your sleep?

      1. Ariel Strasser

        That’s possible. I’ve worn a sleeping mask since university, so I’d need to get my hands up past that to get at my head.

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