Ex On The Beach’s ZaraLena Jackson opens up on her alopecia journey during a pandemic

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Ex On The Beach star ZaraLena Jackson has opened up about her recent diagnosis with alopecia which made her completely bald within six weeks.

The former reality star, 28, shared her journey with the autoimmune condition three weeks after she was diagnosed, and she admitted that it was “the best thing I could have ever done.”

More than one year on, the Preston-based fashion designer, who recently showed "bald is beautiful" with her head shave, has embraced her new look with the support of her 211,000 followers online.

In an exclusive chat with OK!, the Ex On The Beach star opened up about her experience with the autoimmune disease which she developed during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zara explained how she initially thought she was having an allergic reaction until she was diagnosed in July last year.

She said: "It started with rashes all over my body, my lymphs [nodes] went all up in my neck like I was having like a weird allergic reaction and then my hair just started falling out.

“Then six weeks later I was completely bald, head and body. Everything just completely left me. It literally came out of absolutely nowhere.”

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Alopecia Areata is the condition characterised by the complete loss of hair on the scalp and body which can affect people of any age.

Although the exact cause of alopecia is unknown, it is thought to be an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, according to Alopecia UK.

Zara started to see the full effects of her condition during the height of the pandemic which meant that she had a lot of difficulties finding a solution for her sudden hair loss.

“My alopecia hit me at the busiest time for all the doctors,” she reflected, “ so for me, I had to go private but even private took months. My first dermatologist appointment was in December and by this point I was already completely bald.

“It had already gone so far that even if I was offered treatment or steroid injections that they could have done to prevent it or slow it down, it was just too far gone. It was just too late for me which is awful.”

When Zara finally got the treatment she was looking for, she received an oral steroid to help encourage hair regrowth, but she revealed that was like “torture” seeing her hair fall out all over again.

She shared: “I did grow hair back and I did react very, very well to the steroids but unfortunately when I came onto one tablet a day, it did start to fall out again.

“My rashes were back up and my lymph [nodes] were back, it was like it was just happening all over again.

“If anything. it’s just like torture putting myself back through it all over again for nothing.”

But the business woman didn’t let the condition hold her back with the help of her loving boyfriend Kurtis Hartman, 25, after she embraced her new look and shared her story online.

Zara admitted: “I knew as soon as I shared it on social media that would help me accept myself because it’s almost like owning what’s happened.

“I was so blown away and so pleased, honestly sharing it on social media was the best thing I could have ever done. It was like a weight got lifted off my shoulders, I got so much support.”

Now, the Preston native wants to raise awareness for the condition on her platform as a place of safety for those who need it.

She concluded: “The least I can do now is raise the awareness on my platform. I’m supposed to be an influencer, I need to start influencing something that’s influential.”

You can visit ZaraLena’s Instagram page to follow her alopecia journey or you can visit her online beauty store ZaraLena Cosmetics.

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