A teenage girl who dreamed of becoming a model has revealed the horror she experienced when her long locks fell out due to a mysterious illness.
Tiahna Faraci was just 15 years old when she noticed a bald spot the size of a 50 cent piece on the front of her scalp.
Within a few months, bald spots had spread all over her head, and large lumps kept falling out.
“Later on 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 years old when she noticed a bald spot the size of a 50 cent piece on the front of her scalp
Within a few months, all of Tiahna’s hair (pictured) started falling out
Her mother Rosanna Faraci, an accomplished fashion model and photographer who is a single mother of two daughters, could only watch in terror.
“It was a very dark time,” Rosanna said.
“She (Tiahna) just got shut down. She didn’t believe she was sweet and that really broke my heart because without her you’re still very sweet.’
Tiahna was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles.
At first it seemed confined to Tiahna’s head, but soon it spread to the rest of her body, even causing her eyebrows and eyelashes to fall out.
“I didn’t even want to go out,” she said.
“I thought I was like the ugliest thing on earth. You really learn how low your self-esteem can go.”
Rosanna spent thousands on treatments for her daughter, but to no avail.
At one point, Tiahna was getting about 100 cortisone injections on her scalp every month.
“It was torture and she cried every morning and night. Her mind just broke completely,” Rosanna said.
In December, Tiahna finally made the decision to shave off the rest of her hair and found it to be a liberating experience.
“It gave me a lot of strength,” Tiahna said.
“That’s when I knew I would get through this.
“I just had a huge smile on my face. I was happy. When I looked in the mirror, I thought, “Oh, I don’t look bad with a shaved head.”
In March, Tiahna even debuted her new look on the runway for the Melbourne Fashion Festival.
Tiahna is pictured on the runway at the Melbourne Fashion Festival
Tiahna was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles
Tiahna finally made the decision to shave off what was left of her hair and found it to be a liberating experience (pictured Rosanna and Tiahna)
“I was very nervous at the start, but when you get on the catwalk, you get a lot of adrenaline,” said Tiahna.
“I felt really famous.”
Proud mama Rosanna watched.
“Just seeing what she went through last year, and seeing 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 wearing a wig so people 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.
“As a teenage girl, I want my hair back.
“Put it up in a bun, without worrying about putting on a wig.”
“I’m still learning how to love myself again.”
What is Alopecia?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, often in patches that become more noticeable over time.
The immune system defends the body against unwanted bacteria or viruses. In cases of alopecia areata, the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, the structures that make hair grow.
Researchers do not know the exact cause of this condition and there is currently no cure.
However, there are some medications that claim to stimulate hair growth.
Steroid injections, oral treatments, laser therapy and creams, and special diets are common treatment options.