What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches, which can be unnoticeable. These patches may connect, however, and then become noticeable. The condition develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss.
Sudden hair loss may occur on the scalp, and in some cases the eyebrows, eyelashes, and face, as well as other parts of the body. It can also develop slowly and recur after years between instances.
The condition can result in total hair loss, called alopecia universalis, and it can prevent hair from growing back. When hair does grow back, it’s possible for the hair to fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies from person to person.
There’s currently no cure for alopecia areata. However, there are treatments that may help hair grow back more quickly and that can prevent future hair loss, as well as unique ways to cover up the hair loss. Resources are also available to help people cope with stress related to hair loss.
Is There A Cure?
Alopecia areata can’t be cured. But it can be treated and hair can grow back. If you have it, there are several things to try:
Corticosteroids. These are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune diseases. They can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas. They can also be given in pill form or rubbed on the skin as an ointment, cream, or foam. The downside is that it may take a long time to work.
Topical immunotherapy. This is used when there’s a lot of hair loss, or if it happens more than once. Chemicals are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction. If it works, this reaction is actually what makes the hair grow back. It also causes an itchy rash, and usually has to be repeated several times to keep the new hair growth.
Minoxidil (Rogaine). This treatment, which is put on the scalp, is already used for pattern baldness. It usually takes about 12 weeks before you see growth, and some users are disappointed in the results.
Other treatments for alopecia areata include medications that are sometimes used for other autoimmune disorders. These medicines have differing amounts of success in re-growing hair.
Symptoms of alopecia areata
The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. Hair usually falls out in small patches on the scalp. These patches are often several centimeters or less.
Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the face, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, as well as other parts of the body. Some people lose hair in a few places. Others lose it in a lot of spots.
You may first notice clumps of hair on your pillow or in the shower. If the spots are on the back of your head, someone may bring it to your attention. However, other health conditions can also cause hair to fall out in a similar pattern. Hair loss alone isn’t used to diagnose alopecia areata.
In rare cases, some people may experience more extensive hair loss. This is usually an indication of another type of alopecia, such as:
• alopecia totalis, which is the loss of all hair on the scalp
• alopecia universalis, which is the loss of all hair on the entire body
Doctors might avoid using the terms “totalis” and “universalis” because some people may experience something between the two. It’s possible to lose all hair on the arms, legs and scalp, but not on the chest, for example.
The hair loss associated with alopecia areata is unpredictable and, as far as doctors and researchers can tell, appears to be spontaneousTrusted Source. The hair may grow back at any time and then may fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies greatly from person to person.
Alopecia areata in females
Females are more likely to develop alopecia areata than males, but it’s not clear why. The hair loss can occur on the scalp, as well as the eyebrows and lashes.
Unlike female-pattern hair loss, which is a gradual thinning of hair that covers a large area, alopecia areata may be confined to a small area. The hair loss may occur all at once, too. The area can gradually expand, which results in greater hair loss.
Alopecia areata in children
Children can develop alopecia areata. In fact, most people with the condition will experience their first hair loss before the age of 30.
While there is some hereditary component to alopecia areata, parents with the condition don’t always pass it on to a child. Likewise, children with this type of hair loss may not have a parent who has it.
In addition to the hair loss, children may experience nail defects, such as pitting or lesions. Adults may experience this additional symptom, too, but it’s more common in children.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, children younger than age 5 typically don’t experience much of an emotional impact from alopecia. After age 5, however, hair loss can be traumatizing for young children as they start noticing how they’re different from others.
If your child appears stressed or depressed, ask a pediatrician to recommend a counselor experienced with children.
Several types of alopecia areata exist. Each type is characterized by the extent of hair loss and other symptoms you may be experiencing. Each type may also have a slightly different treatment and prognosis.
Alopecia areata (patchy)
The main characteristic of this type of alopecia areata is one or more coin-sized patches of hair loss on the skin or body. If this condition expands, it may become alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.
Alopecia totalis occurs when you have hair loss across the entire scalp.
In addition to losing hair on the scalp, people with this type of alopecia areata also lose all hair on the face — eyebrows and eyelashes. It’s also possible to lose other body hair, including chest, back, and pubic hair.
Diffuse alopecia areata
Diffuse alopecia areata may look a lot like female- or male-pattern hair loss. It results in sudden and unexpected thinning of hair all over the scalp, not in just one area or patch.
Hair loss that follows a band along the sides and lower back of the scalp is called ophiasis alopecia.
You can rub medications into your scalp to help stimulate hair growth. A number of medications are available, both over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription:
• Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available OTC and applied twice daily to the scalp, eyebrows, and beard. It’s relatively safe, but it can take a year to see results. There is only evidence that it’s useful for people with limited alopecia areata.
• Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp) is a drug that irritates the skin in order to spur hair regrowth.
• Corticosteroid creams such as clobetasol (Impoyz), foams, lotions, and ointments are thought to work by decreasing inflammation in the hair follicle.
• Topical immunotherapy is a technique in which a chemical like diphencyprone is applied to the skin to spark an allergic rash. The rash, which resembles poison oak, may induce new hair growth within six months, but you’ll have to continue the treatment to maintain the regrowth.
Steroid injections are a common option for mild, patchy alopecia to help hair grow back on bald spots. Tiny needles inject the steroid into the bare skin of the affected areas.
The treatment has to be repeated every one to two months to regrow hair. It doesn’t prevent new hair loss from occurring.
Cortisone tablets are sometimes used for extensive alopecia, but due to the possibility of side effects, you should discuss this option with a doctor.
Oral immunosuppressants, like methotrexate and cyclosporine, are another option you can try. They work by blocking the immune system’s response, but they can’t be used for a long period of time due to the risk of side effects, such as high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, and an increased risk of serious infections and a type of cancer called lymphoma.
Light therapy is also called photochemotherapy or phototherapy. It’s a type of radiation treatment that uses a combination of an oral medication called psoralens and UV light.
Some people with alopecia areata choose alternative therapies to treat the condition. These may include:
• acupuncture/ Hydroacupuncture
• low-level laser therapy (LLLT)
• Excimer Light Therapy. • vitamins, like zinc and biotin
• Homoeopathic remedy. • aloe vera drinks and topical gels
• onion juice rubbed onto the scalp
• essential oils like tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint
• other oils, like coconut, castor, olive, and jojoba
• an “anti-inflammatory” diet, also known as the “autoimmune protocol,” which is a restrictive diet that mainly includes meats and vegetables
• scalp massage
• herbal supplements, such as ginseng, green tea, Chinese hibiscus, and saw palmetto
• Some additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Nutraceutical supplement. Always talk to specialist doctor before trying any herbal or vitamin supplement.
The effectiveness of each treatment will vary from person to person. Some people won’t need treatment because their hair grows back on its own. In other cases, might see improvement by treatment option. Usually
you will see a difference after a course of treatment with the expert .Keep in mind that hair regrowth needs multiple treatment and also when regrowth completely still need oral supplements for long term to maintain the fullness if hair because we cannot change the genetic type but we can manage the environment and supplement to maintain and prevent the recurrence. Please feel free to consult our dermatologist @ www.drorawan.com