Alopecia Areata: What you should know

This condition causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and sometimes other parts of the body. It mainly affects the head and face, but it can happen anywhere. Hair usually falls out in quarter-sized areas. Sometimes hair loss is more severe. It affects 6.8 million Americans and has a 2.1 percent lifetime risk. Alopecia areata affects people of various ages, genders, and ethnicities. It usually starts in childhood and is unique to each person who has it.

There are various varieties of this ailment. Alopecia areata is the most prevalent variety, but there are additional, more common types includes, hair loss in a band around the sides and back of your head is caused by ophiasis alopecia areata. Alopecia areata totalis is a condition in which you have lost all the hair on your head. Diffuse alopecia areata is characterized by a rapid thinning of your hair rather than areas of hair loss. Alopecia areata universalis is a condition in which you lose hair all over your body.

Who gets alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is more likely to occur if you have a relative with the disorder. It is also more common in families with autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, lupus, or thyroid disease.

Alopecia areata can affect anyone, but some are more prone than others. Those most likely to get it have:

Asthma, thyroid disease, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, or Down syndrome. Alopecia areata is more common in those who have one of these disorders, according to research.

Been treating cancer with a medicine called nivolumab. Alopecia areata has reported in few cancer patients who got the medicine nivolumab (nye-VOL-you-mab). It treats advanced lung cancer and melanoma. Hair loss normally starts a few months into therapy. Nivolumab-induced alopecia areata is a healthy indicator. Hair loss like this usually signals the medicine is working.

A close blood relative with this illness. Alopecia areata affects roughly 10% to 20% of people who have it. To mask hair loss, many people may try harder.

A corticosteroid applied to the bald patches to address hair loss. It allows hair regrowth when undergoing chemotherapy. Race may also influence alopecia areata risk. Black and Hispanic nurses had higher rates of infection than non-Hispanic white nurses in a big study. This long-term study has significant flaws. For example, it only studied female nurses in America. More research needed to see if this holds true for others.

What are the causes and symptoms of alopecia areata?

The disorder arises when white blood cells attack hair follicle cells, shrinking them and reducing hair production. It is unknown why the immune system targets hair follicles in this way. Because alopecia areata are common in people who have a close family member with the disorder, scientists believe genetics may be involved. Alopecia areata affects one in every five people.

Others found that many people with alopecia areata also had atopy, which includes hypersensitivity to allergens, thyroiditis, and vitiligo. Contrary to widespread perception, stress does not induce alopecia areata. Stress may cause the condition, but recent research points to a genetic basis.

Rarely, people lose more hair than others. This frequently indicates alopecia totalis or universalis. Doctors should avoid using terminology like totalis and universalis because some people may feel both. Arms, legs, and scalp hair are more lost completely, but not on the chest. Alopecia areata hair loss is unpredictable and appears to be spontaneous, according to doctors and experts. Hair can grow back and then fall out at any time.

Treatment

There is no known cure for alopecia areata, but there are therapies that may help slow future hair loss or speed up hair growth. Because the situation is unpredictable, it may take a lot of trial and error to determine what works for you. Even with medication, hair loss can worsen in some people.

Medical Treatments

There are a few ways to try if you know someone who has it:

Topical immunotherapy. This used when there is a lot of hair loss or balding. On the scalp, chemicals cause an allergic reaction. This reaction, if it works, stimulates hair regrowth. It is itchy and must be performed multiple times to keep new hair growth.

Minoxidil (Rogaine). This scalp therapy already used for pattern baldness. It takes about 12 weeks to see effects, and some consumers disappointed. Learn which alopecias respond best to minoxidil.

Corticosteroids. Anti-inflammatory medications used to treat autoimmune illnesses. They might be injected into the scalp or elsewhere. A tablet or an ointment, lotion, or foam used to deliver them. But it may take a long time to work.

Agents for use on the skin. Medication applied to the scalp might promote hair growth. A number of OTC and prescription treatments are available, such as Minoxidil (Rogaine), which used twice daily on the scalp, brows, and beard. It’s safe, but results can take a year. It appears to help patients with limited alopecia areata.

Oral treatments. You can also try oral immunosuppressants like methotrexate. However, they not recommended for long-term usage because of the danger of adverse effects such as high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, and an increased risk of serious infections as well as lymphoma.

Injections. Steroid injections commonly used to help bald patches develop hair. Small needles inject the steroid into the afflicted skin. Repeat the procedure every 1–2 months to regain hair. It doesn’t stop fresh hair loss.

Light therapy. Light therapy also known as photochemotherapy. It’s a sort of radiation therapy that combines psoralens oral medicine and UV light.

Treatment that is based on Natural Methods

Alternative remedies used to cure alopecia areata. There is also low-level laser therapy and aromatherapy (LLLT). Other remedies include zinc and biotin supplements, aloe vera drinks and topical gels, onion juice applied to the scalp. And essential oils, including tea tree, rosemary, lavender, and peppermint. The autoimmune regimen is a limited diet that largely contains meats and vegetables.

The FDA also doesn’t require supplement companies to prove their products are safe. Sometimes supplement labels make false or misleading claims. Discuss herbal or vitamin supplements with your doctor. The effectiveness of each treatment varies. It is a condition where, in some circumstances, despite trying every therapy option, no improvement occurs.

You may need to attempt multiple treatments to notice results. Remember that hair regeneration is not permanent. Hair might grow back and then fall out again.

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