What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is a disease that makes the hair fall out in small, unnoticeable patches. However, these patches may connect and become visible.
Hair loss can occur on the scalp, brows, eyelashes, and face, as well as other parts of the body. It can also develop slowly and reoccur after years of inactivity.
The condition, known as alopecia Universalis, can cause total hair loss and prevent hair from growing back.
What are the Causes of Alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder. When the immune system recognizes healthy cells as foreign substances, an autoimmune condition develops., the immune system protects you from foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria.
However, if you have alopecia areata, your immune system incorrectly attacks your hair follicles. Hair follicles are the structures that hairs grow from. The follicles shrink and stop producing hair, resulting in hair loss.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown to researchers.
It is more common in people with a family history of other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. This is why some scientists believe genetics may play a role in the development of alopecia areata.
They also believe that certain environmental factors are required to cause alopecia areata in genetically predisposed people.
What are the Symptoms of alopecia areata?
Hair loss is the most common symptom of alopecia areata. Hair falls out in small patches on the scalp most of the time. These patches are frequently a few centimeters in size or less.
Other areas in the face, such as the brows, eyelashes, and beard, and other parts of the body, may experience hair loss. Some people only lose hair in a few areas. Others falter in a variety of areas.
You may notice strands of hair on your pillow or in the shower at first. Someone may bring the spots to your attention if they are on the back of your head. On the other hand, other medical conditions can cause hair to fall out in a similar pattern. Alopecia areata is not diagnosed solely based on hair loss.
Some people may experience even more severe hair loss in rare cases. This is typically a sign of another type of alopecia, such as:
-alopecia totalis, which is the complete loss of hair on the scalp.
-alopecia Universalis, which is the complete loss of hair on the body.
Doctors may avoid using the terms “totalis” and “universal” because some patients may experience a combination of the two. It is possible to lose all of the hair on the arms, legs, and scalp, but not on the chest.
Alopecia areata hair loss is unpredictable and, as far as doctors and researchers can tell, appears to be spontaneous. Hair can regrow at any time and then fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth differs significantly between individuals.
Alopecia areata in males
Alopecia areata impact both men and women, but men are more likely to experience significant hair loss.
Men’s facial hair and their scalp, chest, and back hair may experience hair loss. Hair loss from this condition results in patchy hair loss instead of male-pattern baldness, which causes a gradual thinning of hair all over.
Alopecia areata in females
Females have more chances than males to develop alopecia areata, but it is unclear why. Hair loss can affect the scalp, as well as the brows and lashes.
Unlike female-pattern hair loss, characterized by a gradual thinning of hair over a broad area, alopecia areata may infect only a small area. Hair loss can also occur all at once. The area may gradually enlarge, resulting in increased hair loss.
Alopecia areata in children
Alopecia areata can occur in children. The majority of people with the condition will notice their first signs of hair loss before 30.
While alopecia areata has a hereditary component, parents with the condition do not always pass it on to their children. Similarly, children with this type of hair loss may not have a parent who suffers from it.
Aside from hair loss, children may develop nail flaws such as pitting or lesions. This additional symptom can occur in adults as well, but it is more common in children.
If your child seems stressed or depressed, ask your pediatrician to recommend a counselor.
How to treat alopecia areata?
There is no known treatment for alopecia areata so far, but there are treatments that may be able to slow future hair loss or help hair grow back faster.
You can stimulate hair growth by rubbing medications into your scalp. There are several medications available, both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription:
-Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available over-the-counter and should be applied twice daily to the scalp, brows, and beard. It’s relatively safe, but results can take up to a year. There is only evidence that it is beneficial for people with mild alopecia areata.
-Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp) is a hair-regrowth stimulant that irritates the skin.
-Corticosteroid creams, foams, lotions, and ointments such as clobetasol (Impoyz) are thought to work by reducing inflammation in the hair follicle.
-Topical immunotherapy is a technique in which a chemical, such as diphencyprone, is applied to the skin to cause an allergic reaction. The rash, which resembles poison oak, may cause new hair growth within six months, but you must continue treatment to keep the regrowth.
Steroid injections are a popular option for mild, patchy alopecia to encourage hair growth in bald spots. The steroid is injected into the affected areas’ bare skin using tiny needles.
The treatment must be repeated every one to two months to regrow hair, but It does not stop new hair loss from occurring.
Cortisone tablets are sometimes used to treat severe alopecia, but you should consult with a doctor first due to the possibility of side effects.
Oral immunosuppressants, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, are another option. They work by inhibiting the immune system’s response.
Photochemotherapy and phototherapy are other terms for light therapy. It is a radiation therapy that combines an oral medication called psoralens with UV light.