What is Alopecia Areata

One of the most disheartening diseases for men and women is alopecia areata, defined as the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body. The idea of hair loss is a self-image concern, causing emotional problems in many people.

What causes this distressing affliction? Strangely enough, the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins. It can happen in varying degrees, from minor hair loss in one patch to fully bald, and unfortunately there is no cure.

There are a number of treatments that can help the hair to regrow, but it could be temporary and doctors are still not sure why it happens. This article explains how the condition is diagnosed:

Alopecia areata | American Academy of Dermatology

What is alopecia areata

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If the patch of hair loss is expanding, the doctor may pull out a few hairs. These hairs will be looked at under a microscope.

Sometimes the dermatologist will perform a skin biopsy to confirm that the disease is alopecia areata. To perform a skin biopsy, the dermatologist removes a small piece of skin so that it can be studied under a microscope.

Blood tests may be necessary if the dermatologist thinks the patient might have another autoimmune disease.

See the original post here:  Alopecia areata | American Academy of Dermatology

What Causes This Sudden Loss of Hair

Even though doctors are exactly sure what causes alopecia, there are some factors that can contribute:

  • Severe stress
  • Family History
  • Autoimmune Disorders such as Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Unhealthy Diet
  • Skin Disorders like Seborrheic Dermatitis
  • Medications for Other Issues such as Anticoagulants

The author of this video talks about ways to reduce the chances of alopecia becoming an issue:

In the video, she refers to more holistic treatments but she also mentions corticosteroids. They are anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed for autoimmune diseases that can be given as an injection into the scalp, as a pill, or rubbed onto the skin.

This drug helps to stop the the immune system from attacking the hair follicles in a specific area. The downside to using corticosteroids is that it can take quite a while to work and if you stop taking it, the hair may fall out again.

Other common treatments are:

Hair Loss: Is Alopecia Areata the Cause?

Causes for Hair Loss

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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.

Read the full post here:  Hair Loss: Is Alopecia Areata the Cause?

Another possible treatment for hair and scalp problems is ultraviolet light therapy. At this time, the results are less than satisfactory, although it has helped a small number of people with hair regrowth. It also can have somewhat nasty side effects and increase your chances of skin cancer, so it isn’t a recommended treatment at this time.

Other options are using hair tattooing to replicate small areas as well as hair transplants, but these are expensive cosmetic procedures. You can also choose to wear a wig if your hair loss is extensive.

Support groups for people with hair loss are also available. If you are diagnosed with alopecia, contact the National Alopecia Areata Foundation for more information.