Barely there–life after Gardasil related hair loss


No teenage girl wants to enter her adolescent years and have to be any more concerned about her appearance than normal.  Simply trying to deal with the normal stresses of everyday is enough trouble without trying to cover bald spots and find a way to look normal when all you feel is different.  We post regularly about the obvious physical side effects of the Gardasil vaccine–Merck’s cervical cancer prevention vaccine that has been on the market since 2006–like Guillain Barre Syndrome, fainting and weakness.  But it isn’t often we talk about the side effects that affect the appearance and change body image and alter the self esteem of many young ladies and women alike.[blockquote align=”right” cite=”Mother of a victim of Gardasil”]My 12 year old daughter was just diagnosed with alopecia areata. She received 2 doses of the Gardasil shot. Is this a coincidence? I will not be getting the 3rd shot. I believe Gardasil is the cause of this autoimmune disease [alopecia areata]. This shot is too new to be given to girls, more research is needed.[/blockquote]

For the majority of girls and women who are suffering hair loss after their Gardasil vaccine, there is an all to common thread and that is that they are often not even making the association between the vaccine and their extreme hair loss until it is too late.  When some begin to notice hair loss, they seek medical attention and as doctor after doctor scratches their head or begins treatment of some type, virtually no one is linking the vaccine–and women are continuing the 3 shot series which may only do more damage.

Most women who seek treatment for their dramatic hair loss are often told one thing–Alopecia areata.  Research surrounding this spotty form of hair loss shows that the condition is in fact an autoimmune condition.  As the body begins to attack certain tissues of the body (and in this case, perhaps the scalp and hair follicles) the hair  is lost at a rapid rate, and more often on one side of the head than the other.  Biopsies taken of skin where hair has been lost shows the presence of immune cells inside the hair follicles–a place where they would not normally be found.  In some cases, though not as common, the alopecia can effect the entire body resulting in the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and over the rest of the body. In naturally occurring cases of alopecia, the hair will re-grow in 50% of patients and the longer its gone the less likely it is to return. For treatment, patients may be given steroids, creams or shampoos in an attempt to stimulate growth.

The most unfortunate part of this condition for those who have taken Gardasil is that it is completely preventable by never taking the vaccination.  Because neither patient or physician usually considers a link between the two it is easily overlooked.  Symptoms can begin as soon as a few weeks or even up to a year after vaccination.

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