The Egremont teenager using TikTok to raise awareness of alopecia

  • Video report by Lauren Ostridge.

A west Cumbrian teenager is using the power of social media to raise awareness of a condition that has left her with no hair.

Ashton Telford, who is 17 from Egremont, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease alopecia universalis in September last year. It causes hair loss across the entire scalp, face, and rest of the body.

The condition left her 'heartbroken'. Speaking to ITV Border, she said: "It was really hard because, at seventeen year old, what you wanna do is look good.

"It was absolutely heartbreaking. I wouldn't want to put anyone through what I went through - but now I have taken control and it's made me who I am now."

Ashton uploads upbeat TikToks to raise awareness of alopecia. Credit: Ashton Telford / PA

What is alopecia?

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches. It happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles.

Hair loss may occur on the scalp, and in some cases the eyebrows, eyelashes, and face, as well as the rest of the body.

The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies from person to person. Alopecia areata can eventually lead to hair completely falling out. This is called alopecia universalis.

There’s currently no cure for alopecia areata, but you can have treatment that could help it grow back.

Ashton was diagnosed with alopecia at the age of 17. Credit: ITV News

Ashton's upbeat TikTok videos have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.

From tips to keep your wig in the best condition, to inspirational speeches. They all share the same message - to be proud of who you are.

Ashton said: "It is now who you are, so be confident in it. You can't have your hair back, you can't stick it back onto your head  - so just be confident.

"I just want to spread so much awareness and show people what they can do. If they're not a makeup person they can see what I buy, what I purchase and how I apply it."

Ashton's goal is to eventually become a social media influencer, so she can help as many people as possible feel more comfortable in their own skin. 

For more information and advice, visit Alopecia UK - a small charity that offers support to people living with the condition.