Alopecia Areata: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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Hair loss is a common problem among men and women, especially as people grow older. However, as normal and as expected in most cases hair loss is, there is one type of hair loss that occurs among a group of people and that is Alopecia.

What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the hair’s follicles causing it to fall off in clumps. On average, men and women shed about 50 strands of hair daily. There is no cause for alarm here as with each strand that falls off, a new one is most likely to grow.

However, alopecia is entirely different as it speeds up the rate of hair loss in concentrated areas of the scalp and other parts of the body. In most cases, hair grows back within a year but in some cases, the hair loss is permanent.

What Are the Different Types of Alopecia?

There are four other rarer types of alopecia areata, namely:

Alopecia Areata Totalis. This case is characterized by a total loss of hair on your head.

Alopecia Areata Universalis. This type pertains to the loss of hair all over your body.

Ophiasis Alopecia Areata. Hair loss occurs on the sides and back of your hand in the shape of a band.

Alopecia Areata Incognita. This case is manifest in thinning hair but not necessarily bald patches.

Alopecia Areata: Signs You’re Going Through One

Alopecia areata, just like most bodily disorders, manifest in different ways. Here are a few signs that could be indicators if someone has this disorder:

You start to notice bald patches on your head and body. It is typically unnoticeable until it is.

The small patches continue to get bigger. If you notice a tiny patch of a bald spot on your head, it is bound to get bigger which cannot be covered with long hair.

As hair grows back in some bald spots, other areas go through hair loss. The thing about alopecia is it is not contained in one pot. It attacks certain areas on your head either simultaneously or in succession.

There is dramatic hair loss over a short period. As mentioned earlier, it is normal for humans to experience hair loss of about 50 strands a day. But if you start noticing that you’re shedding more than that and fast, consult with a dermatologist immediately.

Fingernails and toenails lose their shine and become rough. In some cases, alopecia doesn’t just attack hair follicles but even fingernails and toenails and makes them lose their luster and brittle.

What Causes Alopecia Areata?

While it is associated with certain health conditions, such as asthma, Down Syndrome, thyroid disease, and vitiligo, most doctors are still puzzled what the real cause of alopecia is. It is generally deducted as an autoimmune disorder that targets hair follicles. But It is also believed that genes also play a big part in it. Stress and anxiety are also believed to be culprits as they have different adverse effects on the body that manifest in numerous ways.

How Does One Treat Alopecia Areata?

Unfortunately, doctors and specialists still have yet to find a cure for alopecia since what causes it is still not identified. However, hair loss can be treated to make it grow back at a slightly faster rate.

Here are some ways that alopecia areata is treated:

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are prescribed as anti-inflammatory drugs that can either be injected into the scalp and other affected areas or be ingested in pill form. It can also come in the form of a cream or ointment that is applied to the affected part of the scalp or body.

Topical Immunotherapy

This type of treatment is used when there’s numerous hair loss. It causes the skin to have an allergic reaction which then triggers new hair growth if it is effective.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil has been used for quite some time now against pattern baldness in both men and women. It is safe and approved by the U.S. FDA, but it takes a few months before results become noticeable.

Alternative Home Care Remedies

Some home remedies such as aloe vera or moringa extract for hair lossare also helpful in moisturizing the scalp and triggering healthier hair growth. Some men (and a very small number of women) just decide to shave their heads and sport a bald head until all the hair grows back. Others use wigs, scarves, and hats to hide the bald patches.

Minimize Stress

Since alopecia is also somewhat related to stress and anxiety, dermatologists recommend minimizing the stressors affecting a person to not add to the scalp’s aggravation.

Alopecia may not be a serious physical condition since it is not lethal nor is it contagious. However, it is difficult to cope emotionally with the dramatic hair loss that alopecia brings. If you suspect you are experiencing alopecia areata, consult with a dermatologist so you know what to do and how to cope with it healthily.

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