What You Should Know About Alopecia Areata

alopecia areata

Nearly seven million Americans and 147 million people worldwide have or will develop alopecia areata during their lives. Alopecia areata is a common condition that causes the hair to fall out in small patches that often go unnoticed. When the patches begin to connect, however, the hair loss becomes noticeable. Alopecia is caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles which leads to hair loss.

Hair loss with alopecia commonly occurs on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, face, and other parts of the body. When the condition causes total hair loss, it’s known as alopecia areata universalis (AU). This condition can lead to recurring or permanent hair loss.

Alopecia Areata Causes

Alopecia’s main symptom is hair loss. Specifically, hair falls out in small patches from the scalp. A lot of people first notice clumps of hair on their pillows or in the shower. In rare cases, some experience extensive hair loss, which is usually an indication of another kind of alopecia, such as:

alopecia totalis —hair loss that encompasses the entire scalp

alopecia areata universalis — total loss of all hair on the body

Causes of Alopecia Areata

Alopecia is an autoimmune condition. These conditions develop when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for foreign substances, including viruses and bacteria. In alopecia patients, the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles — the structures from which hair grows. Eventually, the follicles become smaller and stop producing hair altogether. This leads to hair loss.

Though researchers do not know the exact cause of alopecia, it most often occurs in patients who have a family history of prior autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treating Alopecia Areata

Although there is no known cure for alopecia, there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms, including:

Topical Creams: Rub these medications into the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

Steroid Injections: Steroid injections are a common treatment option for mild, patchy cases of alopecia. The injections help the hair grow back. You will have to repeat this treatment every one to two months to cause hair regrowth, and it does not prevent new hair loss.

Oral Treatments: Cortisone tablets are often used for extensive cases of alopecia. This medication has strong side effects, so it’s important that you talk to your doctor before taking it.

Light Therapy: Also known as photochemotherapy or phototherapy, light therapy is a type of radiation treatment that deploys a combination of oral medication and UV light.

The good news is that many people are living with this condition, and there are effective treatments for minimizing symptoms. You are not alone. If you suffer from alopecia, we encourage you to visit Custom Hair Tampa Bay. To schedule a free consultation at one of our three locations click here.

Photo Credit: whoismargot Via Pixabay