A woman who was so desperate to hide her alopecia from her boyfriend that she slept in wigs for six months has revealed his touching reaction after she shared a wigless photograph on Facebook .
Abby Andrew, 24, started to lose her hair when she was just two-years-old, and was diagnosed with alopecia areata.
She had a shaved head by the age of three, when her bald spots grew larger than her patches of hair, but as she grew older she became more anxious about hiding her baldness and would refuse to leave the house without a wig.
As a child she quit the swimming team and would refuse to go on rollercoasters out of worries about losing her wig.
When rumours began at school she wore a wig, she avoided people outside her immediate social circle for fear she would be found out and would only change wigs over the summer holidays to pretend she had grown or changed her hair.
Although she tried to be more open about her alopecia at university, Abby remained nervous about opening up to a partner.
When she started dating her first boyfriend in 2014, she even slept in a wig for the first six months of their relationship to avoid him finding out.
"When I started dating my first boyfriend, I kept it a secret by wearing the same wig every day," she said.
"I started hanging out with him in March 2014, and I was too scared for him to see me without a wig for sixth months. It usually meant sleeping with my wig on if I stayed over at his!"
However, by that August Abby was tired of keeping it a secret, and decided to share her alopecia with the world.
"I had enough of the secret and made a Facebook post announcing that I had alopecia and that was how my boyfriend at the time found out. I was afraid of how he'd react the next time I saw him, but he told me it was cool that I opened up.
"For a long time I avoided dating because I knew that if I started dating someone, I would have to open up to them. When my boyfriend saw my Facebook post about my alopecia he really didn't care, and I realised that being bald didn't make me 'undateable'.
"I learned that most guys don't care, and I even tried out dating apps and included pictures of myself in different wigs and a picture without a wig.
"I got plenty of matches, and for most guys it turned out to be a conversation starter. Some guys said it was inspiring to them and they thought it was cool.
"Having alopecia almost works as a filter to get guys that are going to be shallow about it out of the way. If a guy thinks it's weird I have alopecia, I wouldn't be interested him anyway."
In 2015, Abby started a YouTube channel talking about alopecia and wigs. She said she now feels able to tell dates about her alopecia straight away and is beginning to feel more comfortable leaving the house without a wig.
"All alopecia does it make us lose our hair, which we can't control, but we can control how much we allow it to affect us emotionally," she said.
"Life's too short to stress about hair. I wish I had been open about alopecia sooner. I can't believe all those years I missed out on switching up wigs and letting myself have fun with it."