By Lauren Pastrana

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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — At his Coral Gables office, Gary Kramer is the doctor but he recently found himself on the other side of the exam table.

“It wasn’t until my wife pointed out to me that I had a patch on the top of my head that I realized, ‘Hey, maybe I need to do something about this,’ Dr. Kramer told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana. “When I saw it start to spread and get very active, then I realized I needed to actually take a few minutes for myself and actually go to a doctor with a problem that I had.”

Dr. Kramer was talking about the flu during a segment on CBS4 News at 7 back in January, when he says his wife realized a patch of his hair was missing.

He also got the flu himself.

“The dermatologist I was working with strongly believed something hit my immune system very hard, and that’s a very common culprit,” he said.

Dr. Kramer thinks it is possible the illness triggered Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. — people of all ages, both sexes and different ethnic groups.

Stars like Viola Davis have dealt with Alopecia. Her hair has grown back.

South Florida native NFL player Ryan Shazier has written about his experience losing his hair as a young boy.

“What I want people to know is that it’s a lot more common than they realize,” Dr. Kramer said.

Dr. Kramer says he lost almost all of his hair rapidly, over a three-week period.

“I think you don’t realize how much you identify with it until you don’t have it,” he explained.

The pediatrician, once known for his great head of hair, now wears ball caps in the office.

“I was not a hat man before because I hated to mess up my hair,” he joked. But he says he wears one now for the sake of his young patients.

While it has been an adjustment, Dr. Kramer says the outpouring of support has overwhelmed him.

“While I’d rather have my hair grow back, it does put it into perspective that it is just hair.”

With Alopecia Areata, the hair follicle remains alive and your hair can regrow at any time.

Dr. Kramer says there are treatment options available, which he is pursuing.

But in the meantime, he is still healthy and happy, and focused on making sure his patients are, too.

Comments (2)
  1. Thea Chassin says:

    Dr Kramer: Better to shave your head down smooth and say to yourself “I have alopecia, so what?” than put a baseball hat between you and your patients. In my work with thousands of people with alopecia areata, mostly women and girls, the last thing your contacts (personal or business) want is to sense that you’re hiding something … and they will surely sense it. Keeping alopecia areata a big secret isn’t the example you want to set whether you go for treatments or not.

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