When Joanna Rowsell stood on the podium to collect her Olympic medal for cycling, she became the new face of Alopecia. While the 23-year old may not have been looking to become the poster child for alopecia sufferers, her story and bravery is now inspiring others around the world suffering from the condition.
Rowsell, who has suffered from alopecia areata since before she was 10, currently has only a few patches of hair on her scalp, she normally wears a wig, but on the podium, had finally found the confidence to feel at ease with her condition. Rowsell first saw signs of alopecia at the age of nine when the hair in one of her eyebrows fell out. Within months, she had developed bald patches on her scalp and she began to lose eyelashes.
Alopecia is an auto-immune disorder in which the body's own defenses target the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss and baldness. Unfortunately, at this time, there is little known about this condition and there are no effective treatments available.