Updated: Apr 26
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes your hair to fall out, often in quarter-sized clumps. Alopecia can affect hair on your scalp, eyebrows, or anywhere on your body. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system assaults healthy body cells because it believes they are noxious foreign invaders. Alopecia areata can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. It usually appears during childhood and is unique to each person who has it. Some people only lose it in a few spots. Some may suffer significant losses. Hair can grow back but then fall out again. In others, hair grows back permanently. However, there is a silver lining here. While alopecia flare-ups result in hair loss, and alopecia patches the actual hair follicles are not harmed. This indicates that your natural hair can grow back. So, can Alopecia go away? It’s a yes!
Considering the fact that there is no known cure for Alopecia in women, there is much to be done yet, and the search for a cure seems to be an ongoing process. Therefore, to dedicate an entire month to spreading the word of Alopecia awareness seems like the bare minimum we can do to show our support for the cause and the people suffering from it. Yes, September is National Alopecia Awareness Month, which is supported by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF).
It is a great time to learn about what’s Alopecia Aereata, share knowledge, arrange fundraisers, stay in the loop about the latest R&D and treatments, etc. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, it affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. and 147 million worldwide, with a lifetime risk of 2.1%. Therefore, it is needless to say that every little effort counts.
Even a tiny gesture of emotional support can make a difference in the lives of people suffering from it. If you have Alopecia, Alopecia Awareness Month may be an excellent opportunity to tell people about your experience. Sharing your personal experience with others has a lot of power. But above all, Alopecia Awareness Month is a great time to get the basics right and educate ourselves and others. So, let's get started.
Types of Alopecia in Females
Alopecia areata is a catch-all term for different Alopecia types such as alopecia Totalis, Universalis, Diffuse, and Ophiasis alopecia areata. Each of these types can range from mild to extremely severe.
Alopecia areata (patchy) is characterized by one or more coin-sized (usually round or oval) patches on the scalp or other body parts. This type can progress to Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis, but it is typically patchy.
Alopecia totalis causes hair loss all over the scalp.
In comparison to Alopecia Totalis, Alopecia Universalis is more advanced. This kind of Alopecia causes hair baldness across the entire scalp, the face, the rest of the body, and even the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Diffuse alopecia areata causes sudden and unexpected hair thinning all over the scalp rather than lost patches or normal hair loss in shower . It can be difficult to distinguish from other types of hair loss, such as telogen effluvium or male or female pattern hair loss.
Ophiasis alopecia areata is a distinctive pattern of hair loss that includes band-like areas on the sides and lower back of the scalp (referred to as the occipital region). Due to its slower response to therapy, Ophiasis alopecia areata might be more challenging to manage.
What are the causes of Alopecia?
In people suffering from alopecia areata, the immune system attacks healthy hair follicles for reasons that are still unknown to scientists. It is unclear whether these triggers originate inside the body (from a virus or bacteria), outside the body (something in your environment), or both.
Anyone can contract Alopecia, but if you have a relative with the condition, your likelihood of developing alopecia areata is slightly higher. Additionally, those with a family history of autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease, vitiligo, diabetes, or lupus are more likely to develop alopecia areata. Lupus can also cause the scalp hair along your hairline to become fragile and break off easily called Alopecia Lupus. Thus, it seems that genetics are involved in alopecia areata.
Contrary to popular belief, there is virtually little scientific proof that stress contributes to alopecia areata. So if you are wondering, can alopecia be caused by stress? We can say that Alopecia from stress can be triggered too, but most current research points to a genetic basis.
Read this also : What is Hair Porosity ?
Symptoms of Alopecia to Watch Out For
Small, round (or oval) patches of hair loss on the scalp, beard area, or other hairy body areas.
Hair loss and regrowth in different areas of the body at the same time.
Significant hair loss in a relatively short time.
Hair loss is concentrated on one side of the scalp rather than both sides.
Hairs with an "exclamation point" at the base/next to the scalp.
"Stippling" or "Pitting" on the fingernails (rows of tiny dents).
What is the treatment for Alopecia?
Alopecia has no known cure as of yet. The frequency and length of hair loss flare-ups or cycles vary from person to person. There is, however, no cause for concern. The regrowth of natural hair is conceivable. For some people, the body is capable of alopecia areata regrowth signs on its own. Others may benefit significantly from the hair specialist's services in terms of hair regrowth.
Numerous treatment options are available depending on the type of alopecia areata you have, your age, and the level of hair loss.
The main objectives of Alopecia treatment for women are to stop the immune system's assault and to promote hair growth.
The Treatment For Mild Symptoms
The most common treatment is Corticosteroid injections on the bare patches of the skin with a tiny needle. Corticosteroids also come in different strengths and preparations for topical application in solutions, lotions, foams, creams, or ointments.
Another well-liked method to encourage hair growth is to apply a 5% topical minoxidil solution once or twice daily.
Once a day, anthralin is applied to the hairless spots and is often wiped off shortly after (usually 30-60 minutes later).
TREATMENT FOR SEVERE ALOPECIA, ALOPECIA TOTALIS & UNIVERSALIS
For severe scalp hair loss, doctors will occasionally prescribe corticosteroids to be taken orally to control disease activity and promote hair growth.
Topical Immunotherapy entails applying chemicals to the scalp such as diphencyprone (DPCP), dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB), or squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE). This results in an allergic rash (allergic contact dermatitis) that resembles poison oak or ivy, altering the immune response.
A new form of treatment for alopecia areata is being investigated: immunomodulatory drugs. These drugs were initially accepted to treat rheumatoid arthritis and a few blood diseases. They are only presently offered as an oral drug and have not yet received FDA approval to treat alopecia areata.
As frightening as it may sound, alopecia areata isn't usually a serious medical condition, but it can cause a lot of anxiety and emotional distress. It is also necessary to address the psychological consequences of the condition in addition to the physical symptoms. As previously stated, Alopecia symptoms manifest differently in different people. But the bottom line is that the hair follicles are alive, and your hair has a good chance of growing back. If it doesn't, there are several options for concealing your hair loss and protecting your scalp.
At TLP, we provide a platform for treating women suffering from different types of hair loss through our holistichair consultation. We believe in delving deep into the root of the cause through an in-depth analysis, educating our clients, customizing a holistic treatment plan accordingly, and also offering the necessary emotional support to women suffering from Alopecia. If you notice sudden hair loss, always check with a hair expert. To book an appointment, you can visit our website: www.theloveofpeople.com.
About The Author: Paula Bland
The founder of TLP, Paula Bland, is a medically qualified Nurse Practitioner, Hair aesthetician and also a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner known for her highly effective hair consultation. Paula has a non-traditional approach to hair care and advocates a chemical-free, natural, and holistic approach. The Love of People is her brainchild, and its products reflect her approach to hair health and have helped women with naturally curly hair manage their curls in a chemical-free and organic way.