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Millie-Mae, also known as Miss Cardiff, has aligned her career path to developing a cure for alopecia after living with the condition for two years.

Medical Student who is also Miss Cardiff aims to study alopecia after losing hair

A medical student at the University of Exeter, who is also Miss Cardiff, has aligned her career path to developing a cure for alopecia after living with the condition for two years.

Millie-Mae, 19, was just about to compete in the 2019 Miss Wales final when she noticed a patch of hair loss on her head. Before she knew it, her hair would fall out in clumps while in the shower. After calling her GP, Millie-Mae was told that she has alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata is a disease that typically happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss.

Millie-Mae, the current Miss Cardiff, was only 17 years old when she started to lose patches of hair to the condition. She said: “As young girl who has always been complimented on her long, thick hair, you can imagine it’s heart-breaking to have it falling out.’’

‘’I feel like it was dismissed by the GP because alopecia areata isn’t the most severe form. I received a diagnosis but that was basically it. It felt like a free for all to find any treatment routes or counselling groups.’’

After Millie-Mae’s GP not considering her emotional and mental wellbeing, she said that she is grateful from being able to talk to individuals who live with alopecia because ‘’it feels like people understand me.’’

She currently uses a steroid gel which has started to show some re-growth. However, while it can be treated, there is no current cure for alopecia.

Millie-Mae said: ‘’It certainly has taken a toll on my mental health. It took a while for me to start accepting my hair loss. When I see my hair start growing, I get frustrated because I know it’s going to fall out again.’’

Millie-Mae continued: “Image is a big part of the pageant competitions I compete in. I feel like alopecia areata is almost taboo in pageantry because it’s never really talked about, or if it is, it’s the most extreme form of it.’’

After finding her feet as a 17-year-old, now more than ever, Millie-Mae is ready to take on the 2023 Miss Wales Pageant where she will raise awareness, show the beauty in diversity and break the stigma surrounding her condition.

‘’Alopecia areata is very under-represented in pageantry and it’s not really promoted in the beauty industry so I feel like I need to use my platform to show people that you can still compete in beauty pageants, even if you don’t fit the typical look.’’

Not only is Millie-Mae ready to open up publicly about living with the condition but she is also ready to undertake a medical degree at the University of Exeter with a focus on finding a cure for alopecia.

Millie-Mae said: ‘’There are a lot of issues of alopecia patients not being supported. I think the idea of not being cured is the reason to blame alongside the state of the NHS and overworked doctors at the minute.

‘’Looking at the idea of medicine as a profession and the goals that medics have and the duty of treating their patients is something I hope to be able to make a difference with once I graduate. Part of being a professional is to be aware of what needs to change and be aware of how you’re treating patients.

‘’I think living with the condition myself gives me a motivation to help people differently and to ultimately do my part to help find a cure.’’

Date: 11 October 2022