My younger sister aged 8 has alopecia areata (patchy baldness) but it has turned into almost alopecia totalis (complete lack of body hair including eyebrows). She has tried going gluten free, but it’s hard. There are two coeliacs in the family. Doctors say it is nothing to do with diet and won’t do a test for coeliacs - woman at Jindera talk, Fedup Roadshow 2015.

Sue's comment: I find this extraordinary. Medical journals around the world are packed with articles about the link between alopecia and coeliacs. The point they make clear is that the gluten free diet has to be scrupulously gluten free – no mistakes – for at least several months. I know it’s hard, but that’s what you have to do. Perhaps you could print out the following articles to show your doctors.

Coeliac disease and alopecia areata in childhood, Feesatou et al, 2003. Researchers found that administration of a gluten-free diet resulted in complete hair growth.

Reappearance of alopecia areata in a coeliac patient during an unintentional challenge with gluten, Viola et al, 1999.  Describes a patient with coeliac disease whose alopecia was the only symptom. The alopecia disappeared completely after a few months of strict gluten free diet and reappeared after an unintentional prolonged introduction of gluten. After a strict gluten free diet, hair regrew. The researchers concluded “The possibility of a direct relationship in some cases, between coeliac disease and alopecia areata is confirmed”

Factsheet on Alopecia Areata