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Ricki Lake shaves her head amid ‘debilitating’ struggle with hair loss

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Karlene Nation tells her story of extreme hair loss and what kinds of treatment are available – Jul 20, 2017

Actor and TV presenter Ricki Lake is opening up about a decades-long battle with hair loss that she says has left her feeling embarrassed, scared and even suicidal.

“Almost no one in my life knew the level of deep pain and trauma I was experiencing,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that’s since been shared almost 2,000 times.

READ MORE: Traction alopecia — Everyday things you do that can cause hair loss

The 51-year-old, who is best known for playing the lead role in the 1988 version of Hairspray, said she’s exhausted from the onerous treatments she’s undergone over the years to get her hair back, from supplements to steroids.

It’s why she’s decided to shave her head entirely, a choice that’s made her feel “liberated and free,” she said in the post, in which she shared a black-and-white photo of herself with her new, shorter hairstyle.

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The American actor’s struggle with hair loss began after starring in Hairspray. In Lake’s Facebook post, she refers to how her “then healthy” hair was “triple-processed and teased” every two weeks while they were filming. Her locks never recovered after that, she said.

READ MORE: When people lose their hair to cancer, they lose their ‘security blanket’

Lake explained that she also believes yo-yo dieting, birth control, pregnancies, stress and her genetics are all factors that have led to her hair falling out. After constantly using extensions and having the hair loss get worse after losing weight, Lake decided she had enough.

“This time I say ‘no more.’ I have to be set free,” Lake said of her decision to shave her head.

“It is a new decade and a new me,” she said. “I am so done with hiding.”

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Many social media users responded to her story with their own posts about hair loss and photos of them embracing shorter hairstyles.

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“There is a huge community of us and we support you!” wrote one Facebook user. “Thank you for being honest and showing beauty in vulnerability.”

“When mine decided to fall out I opted for no treatment,” commented another user. “I just shave my head weekly…welcome to the new you without dealing with the stress of hair loss.”

What causes hair loss?

Female pattern hair loss affects about 40 per cent of women by the age of 50, according to researchers at the American Academy of Dermatology.

There are multiple factors and issues that could cause hair loss, including stress, illness, changes in hormones after childbirth, chemical damage and hereditary pattern baldness, according to Harvard Medical School.

Spot baldness, also known as alopecia, can have an adverse psychological impact on those who suffer from it, leading to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression, along with “low-self esteem, social withdrawal and suicidal ideation,” according to dermatology researchers.

READ MORE: 'There’s the bald girl' — Okanagan girl embraces hair loss

Hairdresser Danielle Lozia, who helps those living with cancer find wigs, says hair loss is an emotional experience for many people and can severely impact self-esteem.

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“Our hair means so much to us. When our hair is done, it makes us feel really confident and secure,” Lozia said in a previous Global News report. Through providing quality wigs, she tries to ease the experience of hair loss.

“I try to bring a part of themselves back during this whole process [and say], ‘You’re not losing who you are.:

— With files from Global News’ Laura Hensley

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