THE confidence and self-esteem of a Smithfield girl living with an autoimmune disease has been boosted thanks to Variety — the Children's Charity.
Erin Prinitis, 10, was just five when she was diagnosed with alopecia, which affects hair growth on the scalp and entire body and results in hair loss.
Her mother Maria noticed her daughter losing patches of hair before she was diagnosed with the disease.
And within six months of being diagnosed, Erin was completely bald.
"Her hair began falling out in small clumps and initially the patches were no bigger than a five cent coin, but within months it worsened and we were told she had alopecia," Mrs Prinitis said.
"Erin was completely shattered; we both were.
"She couldn't understand why her previously light brown shoulder-length hair was suddenly falling out.
"I was heartbroken as she became very self-conscious, wearing a bandana to hide her thinning hair and fearful of other kids teasing her and noticing she was different."
But just before her sixth birthday, Mrs Prinitis and Erin turned to Variety, which provided the girl with a specialised wig valued at about $3500.
A spokeswoman for Variety said the charity's Princess Charlotte Alopecia Program aimed to instil a sense of confidence, independence and self-esteem for kids with alopecia through the provision of specialised wigs.
"This allows children with the condition to take part in all the activities they enjoy and feel confident around their peers again — a priceless gift!"
Mrs Prinitis said the wig made Erin's confidence skyrocket.
"Erin was able to indulge in activities typical of girls her age with no apprehension, including swimming and playing on the school's playground equipment," she said.
"The special suction mechanism of the wig ensured it stayed in place and all the other kids were none the wiser."