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Alopecia Areata: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Treatment and Prevention

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder. In most cases, it often leads to unpredictable hair loss.

In this article, we look at the causes and symptoms of alopecia areata, its diagnosis, and potential treatments.

Here are some key points about alopecia areata:

  • One in five people with alopecia areata also has a family member who has had the condition.
  • Alopecia areata often appears suddenly over a few days.
  • The condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, although most cases occur before the age of 30.
  • There is little scientific evidence that alopecia areata is caused by stress.
  • People with alopecia areata who have only a few patches of hair loss often experience a full and spontaneous recovery without the need for treatment.
  • There is no cure for alopecia areata.

What are the symptoms of alopecia areata?

People with a few patches of hair loss often have a full and spontaneous recovery without any form of treatment [s]. Or the hair follicles are not damaged and so hair can grow again if the follicle inflammation subsides.

And remember folks, some other health conditions can also lead to hair loss in a similar pattern. Hair loss alone is not used to diagnose alopecia areata.

Here are the symptoms of alopecia areata:

And remember folks, some other health conditions can also lead to hair loss in a similar pattern. Hair loss alone is not used to diagnose alopecia areata.

Here are the symptoms of alopecia areata:

  • Hair loss can be sudden and develop within a few days or over a few weeks.
  • Hair usually falls out in small, round (or oval) spots on the scalp. Any site of hair growth, including the beard, eyelashes, or other areas of the body with hair, may be affected. These spots are often several centimeters or less.
  • There may be itching or burning in the area before hair loss. Or you may first notice clumps of hair on your pillow or while you're in the shower.
  • Incomplete and noticeable hair loss in a very short period of time.
  • Hair loss and regrowth at the same time in different areas of the body.

There are a number of small changes that can occur to the fingernails and toenails, and sometimes these changes are the first sign that the condition is developing:

  • Fine scratches appear
  • White spots and streaks appear
  • Nails become rough
  • Nails lose their shine
  • Nails become thin and split

About half of patients recover from alopecia areata within one year.

What are the causes of alopecia areata?

Some have compared alopecia areata to vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disease in which the body attacks melanin-producing cells, resulting in white patches.

Research suggests that these two conditions may share a similar pathogenesis, with similar types of immune cells and cytokines driving diseases and common genetic risk factors.

As such, any new developments in the treatment or prevention of either disease may have consequences for the other [s].

Here are some causes of alopecia areata supported by sources:

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1. Wrong attack of the immune system

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system mistakes normal cells in your body as foreign invaders and attacks these cells [S].

2. Heredity

Genes are implicated as alopecia areata is more likely to occur in someone who has a close family member with the disease or other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

 This is why some scientists suspect that genes may contribute to the development of alopecia areata.

They also believe that certain factors in the environment are needed to trigger alopecia areata in genetically susceptible people [s].

3. Stress

Despite what many people think, there is little scientific evidence to support the view that alopecia areata is caused by stress.

Extreme stresses can trigger this condition, but the latest research points to a genetic cause [s].

What are the types of alopecia areata?

There are several types of alopecia areata. Each type is characterized by the extent of hair loss and other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Each type may also have slightly different treatment and outlook [S]:

1.Alopecia areata (patchy)

The main feature of this type of dermatosis 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.

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2. Alopecia totalis

Alopecia totalis occurs when you have hair loss all over the scalp.

3. Alopecia universalis

In addition to hair loss on the scalp, people with this type of alopecia areata also lose all facial hair such as eyebrows and eyelashes.

It is also possible to lose other body hair, including chest, back and pubic hair.

4. 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 just in one area or patch.

5. Ophiasis alopecia

Hair loss that follows a band along the sides and down the back of the scalp is called alopecia areata.

Currently, there is no cure for alopecia areata. But the good news is that even when your disease is 'active', your hair follicles are still alive.

This means that your hair can grow back even after a long period of time and even if you have had more than 50% of hair loss.

What is the treatment for alopecia areata?

Your doctor may be able to diagnose alopecia areata by looking at the extent of your hair loss and examining some hair samples under a microscope.

A scalp biopsy is also done to rule out other conditions that cause hair loss, including fungal infections such as tinea capitis.

During a scalp biopsy, your doctor will remove a small piece of skin from your scalp for analysis.

Blood tests may be done if other autoimmune conditions are suspected.

The condition is hard to predict, which means it may require a great deal of trial and error until you find something that works for you. For some people, hair loss may continue to get worse, even with treatment.

If you prefer physical therapy, we previously wrote about the natural treatment of alopecia areata. Here are the medical treatments that can be used:

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1. Topical factors

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 without a prescription and is applied twice daily to the scalp, eyebrows and beard. It is relatively safe, but it may take up to a year for results to appear. There is only evidence that it is beneficial for people with limited alopecia areata.
  • Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp) is a drug that irritates the skin in order to stimulate hair growth.
  • Corticosteroid creams such as clobetasol (Impoyz), foams, lotions, and ointments are thought to reduce inflammation in hair follicles.
  • Topical immunotherapy is a technique in which a chemical such as diphencyprone is applied to the skin to provoke an allergic rash. The rash, which looks like poison oak, may lead to new hair growth within six months, but you will have to continue treatment to keep the hair growing.

2. Injection

Steroid injections are a popular treatment option for patchy alopecia areata to help hair grow back on bald spots. Small needles inject the steroid into the bare skin of the affected areas.

The treatment should be repeated every 1-2 months to regrow hair. It does not prevent new hair loss.

3. Oral treatments

Cortisone tablets are sometimes used to treat severe alopecia, but due to the potential for side effects, this option should be discussed with your doctor.

Oral immunosuppressants, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, are another option you can try.

They work by blocking the immune system's response, but they cannot be used for a long period of time due to the risks 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.

4. Phototherapy

Phototherapy is also called photochemotherapy or photodynamic therapy. It's a type of radiation therapy that uses a combination of an oral medication called psoralen and ultraviolet light.

Prevention and care of alopecia areata

Unlike many skin conditions, alopecia areata does not cause severe rashes, redness, hives, or itching.

Depending on the type of alopecia areata that you or your child has, your age, and the extent of hair loss, there are a variety of treatment options available to disrupt or disperse the immune attack and/or stimulate hair follicles especially for those with milder forms of the disease (hair loss under 50). %).

Some things you can do depending on the affected area:

  • Apply sunscreen if you are exposed to the sun.
  • Wearing rolled-up glasses to protect the eyes from sunlight and dust, which eyebrows and eyelashes usually defend.
  • Use head coverings such as hats, wigs, and scarves to protect the head from the sun or keep it warm. Because a hairless scalp is more sensitive to cold.
  • Use an ointment inside the nose to keep the membranes moist and to protect against the organisms that would normally be trapped in the nose hair.
  • Using eyelash extensions or eyebrow stencils.

SeeMedications Approved for Male Hair Loss

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