Thousands of men and women who have lost their hair due to illness are to benefit from a new grant announced on Wednesday.
Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys has said a grant of up to €500 towards the cost of a hairpiece, wig, or hair replacement for people who suffer hair loss due to illness is being made available.
The grant is expected to support around 2,000 hair loss sufferers during the first year of its introduction.
The grant will fall under the department's Treatment Benefit Scheme and will cover hair loss resulting from cancer and forms of alopecia.
Ms Humphreys said: “This new grant is being introduced in recognition of both the physical and psychological impact that sudden hair loss can have on someone’s life.
“I really hope this new grant will help in some small way in improving the quality of life of people who need it. It is designed to support women or men who lose something that so many of us, on a daily basis, take for granted.”
Paddy Pender of Alopecia Ireland said her organisation is "delighted" with the announcement.
“Many of us struggle to maintain quality wigs, pieces and prostheses as we live with alopecia," Ms Pender said.
The €500 grant will be available to people, and their dependent spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who satisfy the medical requirements and the PRSI conditions of the Treatment Benefit scheme.
Employees paying PRSI contributions under Classes A, E, P and H as well as the self-employed who are insured under Class S may qualify for the grant.
The amount paid by the Department of Social Protection will be the full cost of one hair replacement item per calendar year, up to a maximum cost of €500 and will be available from the May 28, 2022.
It is not available to people who avail of surgical or topical treatments.
The scheme covers hair loss resulting from a disease or treatment of a disease such as cancer and some forms of alopecia.
- alopecia areata (which includes alopecia totalis/universalis, diffuse alopecia areata, alopecia ophiasis)
- primary scarring alopecias (also known as cicatricial alopecias)
- frontal fibrosing alopecia and lichen planopilaris (scarring alopecia)
- chemotherapy induced alopecia (anagen effluvium)
- alopecia resulting from surgery or trauma, including burns
Full details on how to qualify for the grant can be found here.