A teenage girl who dreamed of becoming a model has revealed the horror she faced when her long locks started falling out because of a mysterious illness.
Tiahna Faraci was just 15-year-old when she noticed a bald patch the size of a 50c piece at the front of her scalp.
Within a few months bald patches had spread across her head and large clumps were constantly falling out.
‘Later down the track it was all over the sheets, on your pillow,’ she told The Project.
‘I was shedding like a dog.’
Tiahna Faraci (pictured) was just 15-year-old when she noticed a bald patch the size of a 50c piece at the front of her scalp
Within a few months all of Tiahna’s (pictured) hair started to fall out
Her mother Rosanna Faraci, an accomplished fashion model and photographer who is a single mum to two daughters, could only watch on in anguish.
‘It was a really dark time,’ Rosanna said.
‘She (Tiahna) just closed off. She didn’t believe that she was loveable and that was really broke my heart because without hair, you’re still very loveable.’
Tiahna was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles.
Initially it seemed confined to Tiahna head but soon spread to rest of her body with even her eyebrows and lashes falling out.
‘I didn’t even want to go outside the house,’ she said.
‘I thought I was just like the ugliest thing on this Earth. You really get to learn how low your self-esteem can go.’
Rosanna spent thousands on treatments for her daughter but to no avail.
At one stage Tiahna was receiving about 100 cortisone injections on her scalp every month.
‘That was torture and every morning and night she’d been crying. Her spirit totally just broke,’ Rosanna said.
In December Tiahna finally made the decided to shave what was left of her hair off and discovered it was a liberating experience.
‘It was very empowering,’ Tiahna said.
‘That’s when I knew I was going to get through this.
‘I just had a giant smile on my face. I was happy. When I looked in the mirror, I was like: ‘Oh, I don’t look too bad with a shaved head’.
In March Tiahna even debuted her new look on the catwalk for the Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Tiahna is pictured on the runway at Melbourne Fashion Festival
Tiahna was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles
Tiahna finally made the decision to shave what was left of her hair off and discovered it was a liberating experience (Pictured is Rosanna and Tiahna)
‘I was really nervous at the start but when you get on the catwalk, you get a lot of adrenaline,’ Tiahna said.
‘I felt really famous.’
Proud mum Rosanna watched on.
‘Just seeing what she went through last year, and to see her smile again, it was everything,’ she said.
Tiahna now alternates between her bald look or wearing a wig, which children’s charity Variety Australia helped secure.
‘I just like to wear a wig, so people just don’t look at me all the time,’ Tiahna said.
She still hopes to get her hair back and is trying medication to achieve that.
‘Alopecia is ups and downs,’ she said.
‘Being a teenage girl, I want to have my hair back.
‘Put it up in a bun, not having to worry about putting on a wig.
‘I’m still learning how to love myself again.’
What is alopecia?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, often in patches that become more noticeable over time.
The immune system defends the body from unwanted bacteria or viruses.In cases of alopecia areata, the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which are the structures that allow hair to grow.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of this condition, nor is there currently any cure.
However, there are some medications that claim to help stimulate hair growth.
Steroid injections, oral treatments, laser therapy and creams, and special diets are common treatment options.