Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder of the skin that results in partial or total hair loss. It is unpredictable, although often genetic and it usually begins in childhood. The disorder occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's hair follicles as if it were a disease, squeezing the follicles so that hair can’t grow. It affects only the growing hairs. Resting follicles escape the destruction. Therefore truncating the growth phase of hairs avoids the complete destruction of hair follicles. Often the alopecia areata causes the hair follicles to enter into a telogen resting state to avoid the worst effects of the disease. And this triggers significant shedding. The hair follicles usually stay in this resting state for prologner periods of time. If the hair follicles try to return to an anagen growth state the immune system retargets the hair follicles and forces them back into a resting state.
This disease can also be connected to other autoimmune diseases:
- lupus (chronic disorder that usually affects skin, joints or kidneys)
- thyroid disease (impaired function of the thyroid gland)
- vitiligo (condition causing depigmentation of patches of skin)
- rheumatoid arthritis
- some allergic disorders and
The hair usually falls out in spots on the scalp and in most cases the rest of the hair thins out. In the similar condition alopecia totalis, all the hair is lost on the scalp and alopecia universalis signifies the total loss of hair on the entire body. Depending on the severity of the alopecia, treatments may vary. Alopecia occurs when the hair follicles become inflamed which causes the hair to fall out.
Alopecia treatments can be effective for some people but finding a suitable treatment will take time and to begin with you may not find any that seem to work. Persist with looking and you will find a treatment that suits you. If you are worried or if you feel down, know that you are not alone, many people suffer with this problem and the feelings you have regarding your hair loss are normal. If you are getting a bit down consider a support group or counselor. It is only your hair that has changed not you as a person.
There are several available treatments for Alopecia. Minoxidil and finasteride promote hair growth in a significant minority of patents. UVB is generally used to treat skin conditions but is also used for people with severe hair loss. Steroid injections are commonly used in sites where there are small areas of hair loss on the head or especially where eyebrow hair has been lost. Corticosteroids can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas, orally as a pill or applied topically as an ointment, cream, or foam. Some people will even try hair transplantation, which is completed by taking tiny plugs of skin, each containing one to several hairs, from the back side of the scalp.