Alopecia Areata is one of the most significant types of hair loss after Telogen Effluvium and Androgenetic Alopecia. It is very common.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder. The white blood cells attack the hair follicle causing hair loss. The exact reason for this is still unknown. The research is ongoing.
Types of Alopecia Areata
There are different types of Alopecia Areata. In the patchy Alopecia Areata, bald patches occur in the hair bearing parts of the body. In Alopecia Totalis, the patient loses the entire hair on their scalp. In Alopecia Universalis, the patient loses all hair on their entire body. If the alopecia develops in the beard, the name for the condition is Alopecia Barbae.
Alopeci Areata is not contagious.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
The exact cause for Alopecia Areata is still not known. Certain types of lymphocytes cause the hair loss in Alopecia Areata, according to the most recent research in the field. This medical condition usually appears as localized patches on the scalp or on the body. Alopecia Areata can occur in everyone of all ages, and yet, it most often occurs in children and young people. Some people are more prone to Alopecia Areata for genetic reasons. Many other factors contribute in the development of Alopecia Areata though. For long years, doctors thought stress as a common factor for Alopecia Areata. This misconception persists, and yet there is little scientific evidence that supports that stress is a main contributor for Alopecia Areata. The hair gets inflammation and falls in Alopecia Areata, and yet, we still do not know the entire cause for this hair loss.
The patches in Alopecia Areata can be about the size of a large coin. It occurs due to the body’s own defence system – the body attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Some people are more prone to Alopecia Areata – they are genetically more susceptible to this type of hair loss.
People with diabetes, Down syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and hyperthyroidism are more likely to experience Alopecia Areata. People who have a family history of autoimmune diseases can experience Alopecia Areata too. Symptoms of Alopecia Areata may include rapid and major hair loss, and round patches of hair loss on hair bearing parts of the body.
Alopecia Areata does not cause itching or rashes. The resulting look after the clumps of hair fall, is a hairless patch. The hair loss in Alopecia Areata can come and go. In most cases, the hair grows back.
Diagnosis of Alopecia Areata
The diagnosis can be straightforward. And yet, your doctor may need to perform scalp biopsy. They might also request blood tests to see if there are any autoimmune diseases because those with other autoimmune diseases are more susceptible to Alopecia Areata. Some 20% of Alopecia Areata patients have a family history of the condition.
Alopecia Areata usually does not cause scarring on the scalp.
Treating Alopecia Areata
There is no direct cure for Alopecia Areata. Treatment can help prevent future hair loss, and also help grow back hair rapidly. There is no cure but treatment is beneficial.
The smaller the initial hair loss patches, the quicker the hair grows back. Those who had small Alopecia Areata patches, get back their hair in a year or so. If half of the hair is lost, full recovery may not be possible. How long the full recovery will take is hard to predict. The condition might repeat in some cases. The regrowing hair might be white in the beginning.
Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis may cause permanent hair loss. In general, there is no guarantee if Alopecia Areata is widespread over the scalp and the body.
Rubbing of Rogaine/Minoxidil on the scalp is one way to help grow back hair. In some mild cases of Alopecia Areata, the application of Corticosteroid creams help too. These treatments work only for some people and not on everyone.
In long-term Alopecia Areata, the patient might consider wearing a wig. Effective cure for patients who have extensive Alopecia Areata does not exist. If you have Alopecia Areata, and need emotional support, please look for any support agencies close to where you live.
Local steroid injections, steroid creams, some lotions, tablets, ultraviolet light treatment are some of the treatments used in treating Alopecia Areata but some have risks, and most of these are not effective. The disease is quite unpredictable, and the appearance can be sudden. If your child suffers from Alopecia Areata, consult with your doctor. The available treatments may not always promote hair growth. You might consider attending a support group.