NAAF was established in 1981 with one clear goal; to offer support to individuals affected by alopecia areata. Though the mission has expanded over the past two decades, the importance of providing a substantial support program to people of all ages and interests has not diminished. NAAF's various support programs and resources offer different ways to create a sense of community amongst individuals with alopecia areata and their families.
After an alopecia areata diagnosis, it is important to realize that you are not alone. NAAF has many programs aimed at connecting individuals who have alopecia areata in common. Whether you would like to talk with another person on the telephone, or you would prefer to attend a local support group, NAAF can help. It will do you no good to keep your questions and your feelings bottled inside; there is somebody who will understand, and may even have a bit of valuable advice.
As a foundation, we realize the importance of supplying as much information as possible to help our community, including our Cosmetic Guide: Tools for Everyday Beauty. We know that thousands of articles about cosmetic subjects can be accessed on the Internet, but in this publication we focus on information that might make your experience with alopecia areata easier. We hope you will find some pointers and new ideas that are helpful.
While people have different opinions and experiences, there are a few things that we all seem to share and that seem to be standard in the cosmetic industry. This guide will not have all the answers but it will offer a sampling of information that people with alopecia areata have found to be helpful. Of course, your cosmetic professional will have the best advice for you.
- Cover or Camouflage Your Scalp with Topical Products
- Wigs Questions & Answers
- How to Care for Human Hair
- How to Care for Synthetic Hair
- Making Fake Look Fabulous-Eyebrows
- Making Fake Look Fabulous-Eyelashes
- Alternatives to Wigs
- Notes & References
Helping those individuals with alopecia areata and their families connect with each other is the reason we’ve partnered with Smart Patients to create an online alopecia areata community.
If you are 18 or older, you can join the community for free to share, interact, and learn from each other in a safe, supportive environment.
When you’re ready, we invite you to join the Smart Patients alopecia areata community by visiting: https://www.smartpatients.com/naaf
NAAF’s Ascot Fund is a financial assistance program to help adults and children with alopecia areata purchase a hairpiece. The maximum amount awarded is $500. The applicant needs to be able to pay any balance beyond the award amount.
You are eligible for the Ascot Fund if you meet the following requirements:
- have been diagnosed with alopecia areata by a dermatologist or doctor,
- are unable to purchase a hairpiece due to financial challenges,
- are not already in possession of the hairpiece for which you are applying,
- have not already paid for the full balance of the cost of the hairpiece.
(The Ascot Fund is a pre-purchase program; reimbursements are not provided for any purchases paid in full either by credit card or other financial means).
Please contact the NAAF office to receive an Ascot Fund application.
Support NAAF's Ascot Fund
By donating to this fund you will truly make a difference in the lives of those who have alopecia areata. Hundreds of men, women and children have benefitted since the program’s inception in January 2004.
Obtaining insurance coverage for the cost of a hair prostheses or medical treatments for alopecia areata can present a major challenge. Insurance carriers often describe such treatments as being cosmetic, not medically necessary, and/or experimental (prescribed off-label) for alopecia areata to deny claims. Statistically, about 39-59% of appeals are successful, so NAAF urges you to always appeal a denial.
Tips on Applying for Insurance Reimbursement:
- Check your benefits and covered expenses. Copy any page that specifically states that prosthetic devices (or medical treatments) are covered for alopecia areata or other types of hair loss.
- Include a Letter of Medical Necessity, Obtain a doctor’s letter or prescription stating the need for a hair prosthesis or treatment. Obtain a receipt that says ‘hair prosthesis’ from your wig vendor and have that person sign your insurance form.
- Include photos of yourself without a wig or corrective eye-makeup (pictures can also be used to emphasize why treatment is needed).
- Enclose a NAAF brochure describing alopecia areata.
- Provide a detailed personal account of the emotional effects of your alopecia areata (and discuss the costs of frequent hair prosthesis purchases).
- Ask your employer for a letter stating the importance of your general appearance, including your hair.
Preparing for Denial of Your Claim
- Know your benefits and covered expenses. Obtain a copy of your full contract. Pay particular attention to exclusions for prosthetics (wigs may be excluded as cosmetic). If your policy does not spell out exclusions under prosthetics, this may help you win your claim. Familiarize yourself with your insurance company’s guidelines and deadlines for appeal.
- Understand why you were denied, so you can address the insurance company’s reason(s) directly. Involve your doctor in helping you respond to a denial. Speak with your plan administrator.
- Attach a copy of your original claim and all supporting materials. Explain the difference between a wig and a prosthesis. Explain the functions of body hair: it protects the scalp from the sun; protects eyes from dust particles; regulates body temperature; filters particles from the nose and protects the skin. If you are undergoing treatment, explain again how this is NOT cosmetic treatment.
- Ask for a written reply and carefully document all verbal conversations (insurance companies resist writing anything that may be considered ‘bad faith’ in future court cases).
- Send your appeal to a claims supervisor or manager. If you don’t, the person who initially reviewed your claim may reject it again.
- Consider contacting your state insurance commission, if you are unsuccessful with the appeal process. Keep all correspondence in preparation for this possibility.
- Work with your State Legislature to secure mandated coverage.
- Be persistent! Don’t give up!
The Alopecia Areata Marketplace provides a safe, private way to shop online from your home for products relevant to someone with hair loss. Click here to learn more.
Everyone likes to get mail, especially if it's from a good friend. If you like to write and receive letters, then the NAAF Pen Pal Program is for you.
NAAF created the Pen Pal Program to link people who want to share their experiences and gain support from others like them. The Pen Pal Program connects letter writers that have or know people with alopecia areata from across the country or around the world. Sign up for Adult to Adult, Parent to Parent or Child to Child pen pal connections. The Pen Pal Program is a great way to find others who can relate to your personal experience with alopecia areata.
If you want a Pen Pal, complete this form and return it to the NAAF office. You can choose to send letters through the Post Office or through an email Cyber Bond. After your completed application is approved, we'll send you the list of your new Pen Pals, and you can start writing!
By submitting a Pen Pal application, you give NAAF permission to include your name on future on the Pen Pal or Cyber Bond list or any other relevant NAAF publications.
NAAF publishes an award winning newsletter, Alopecia Areata News, three a year. It is a great resource and is written especially for the alopecia areata community. New and informative articles by parents, fundraisers, researchers, doctors, supporters and more, appear in each issue to connect you with others, share new insights, inspire action and keep you up to date on the work NAAF is doing to fulfill its mission. Included in each newsletter is a unique section called KidNet dedicated to covering the special awareness efforts of the children in the greater NAAF community.
"Here is my annual contribution to enable you to keep up the wonderful work you do. I read the newsletter from cover to cover and often get choked up over some of the articles. They are so heartwarming. Please keep them coming."
While no subscription is necessary, donations to cover production and mailing costs are necessary. If you would like to receive the newsletter, please donate today.
Advertising in the Alopecia Areata News
NAAF’s newsletter, Alopecia Areata News, has a special section of products for those with alopecia areata. This advertising section benefits our continuously expanding reach of readers by providing product information helpful to those with alopecia areata and offers suppliers an opportunity to communicate with our readers. This section is separate from the editorial content of the newsletter and is designed to attract people who have a direct need for these products and services. Contact the NAAF office if you’re interested in joining the many satisfied businesses who have taken advantage of this opportunity.
NAAF developed a Parents Support Pack to help parents, teachers and administrators educate students about alopecia areata. Click here to read more about NAAF's resources for parents.
Once a year, the Foundation organizes a weekend summer conference for people with alopecia areata and their families. Doctors, researchers, and exhibitors attend to present and hear the latest developments in research, treatment, support, and cosmetology. At the conference, people from all over the world find a new family of support to help them cope with alopecia areata in their daily lives. These conferences have grown every year and have added impetus to the Foundation’s work and public awareness of alopecia areata.
Your patients with alopecia areata and their families are our community. Our staff has the time to provide them with personal support, educational materials and a network of caring people who understand. Click here to learn more about how to receive a FREE NAAF Medical Professional Toolkit.
NAAF has a variety of webinars to support you or a loved one with alopecia areata.
Please visit our You Tube playlist to view.