A RARE CONDITION THAT CAN LEAD TO TOTAL HAIR LOSS
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss.
There are many different types of hair loss, including alopecia areata.
This form of the condition causes patches of baldness around the size of a large coin.
They usually appear on the scalp but can occur anywhere on the body.
The condition can start at any age, but it most typically affects teenagers and young adults.
In most causes, a sufferer's hair will grow back over a period of a few months.
At first, hair may grow back fine and white, but over time it should thicken and regain its normal colour.
Those with the condition can go on to suffer alopecia totalis, where they have no hair on their scalp.
Or in severe cases, alopecia universalis, no hair on the scalp or body.
Alopecia areata is caused by a problem with the immune system.
Scientists believe a person's genes can make them more susceptible to the condition, as one in five people with alopecia areata have a family history.
The condition affects one or two people in every 1,000 in the UK.
Mother who lost all her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows after being diagnosed with alopecia wins her first beauty contest
Mother-of-four, Michelle Moffatt, 34, is from Dumbarton, Scotland
Michelle, a cardiothoracic critical care nurse, was diagnosed in 2015
Started losing hair while in the shower and when brushing
Shaved her head hoping would all grow back but has remained bald
A friend entered Michelle into Miss Bombshell Beauty Pageant
Wore a wig for event and was crowned 'Mrs Bombshell GB 2016'
A woman battling alopecia has won her first beauty pageant title despite being completely bald.
Michelle Moffatt, 34, from Dumbarton, Scotland, was diagnosed with the condition that causes hair to fall out in July 2015 after losing a clump of her locks while in the shower.
The mother-of-four was horrified when she eventually lost all her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows and her confidence hit rock bottom.
But when a friend entered her into Miss Bombshell Beauty Pageant, she plucked up the courage to take centre stage and raise awareness for Alopecia UK.
Two weeks ago, Michelle was crowned Mrs Bombshell and Miss Congeniality, despite being completely bald and being up against 50 other girls from across the UK.
She will now be taking part in the world finals in Gibraltar this September.
Michelle, a cardiothoracic critical care nurse, said: 'Winning at the beauty pageant meant the absolute world to me, it was a total shock as all the others girls were stunning. I'm on cloud nine.
'When I first lost my hair I was distraught, I saw a clump fall out in the shower but it wasn't until I took a photo of the back of my head that I realised how much had fallen out.
'I couldn't cover it with other hair so I wore a bandanna to work that day in a complete daze.
'I then started to lose even more, another huge patch had no appeared at the front of my head after I brushed my hair.
'When my friend mentioned a "brave the shave" charity fundraiser for Macmillian Cancer, I thought it would be a great chance to get rid of it and start again.
'But it didn't grow back, and then my eyelashes and eyebrows fell out, that was the hardest part.
'I didn't recognise myself at all, it was awful but my amazing husband, Ross, 36, and kids, Yasmin, 12, Joshua, 10, Darrah, six, and Zachariah, five, kept me going.
The pageant gave me so much more confidence in myself, I would never have entered if my friend hadn't of given me the push I needed.
'Feeling overweight and bald, I told the organisers straight away that I wasn't going to be their usual candidate but they were more than happy for me to be part of the pageant.
'I couldn't believe that after everything I had been through in the past year that something so positive had come out of it all, I felt proud to have alopecia and to educate everyone about the condition.'
Michelle now owns an array of wigs thanks to a charity called WOW - they specalise in pre-owned wigs with all profits going towards helping others with their diagnosis.
She added: 'Putting a wig on made me feel like the old Michelle again, my husband, Ross, had taken down all the mirrors from our wardrobe doors as I hated my appearance so much.
'I took my youngest son, Zachariah, to an appointment with an NHS specialist in dermatology and they were amazing, telling him "only cool mummies have alopecia".
'He smiled and for the first time he touched my bald head when we left. I cried with happiness and I was prescribed for four synthetic wigs.
'It was September 2015 and I had spent so much money on wigs by this point and desperately tried to feel like me again.
'I was learning how to apply make up by watching YouTube videos and I had my eyebrows tattooed.
'For the first time in months I could leave the house without spending hours pencilling on my brows.
'I also decided to have a tattoo on my scalp to symbolise what I had been through and that gave me more confidence to bare all.'