Alopecia areata is an unusual form of hair loss occurring in small patches. This can often remain untraceable or unnoticeable until the small patches connect. After the connection, the hair loss pattern can become visible. Although not all hair fall instances should be confused with alopecia areata.
It is not only restricted to the scalp, as the hair loss may occur on any hair-bearing body part like face, hands, legs, etc. The condition is not specified for males or females and can happen to both. A defect in the immune system causes this condition. It is considered an abnormality which causes damage to follicles. The abnormality leads to autoimmunity, under which immune system responses against the healthy cells and tissues of the body. The immune system cannot establish a difference between healthy and foreign cells. And eventually, end up destroying the healthy cells instead. It is still not known what actually triggers the immune system to act in this way.
In the case of alopecia areata, the immune system starts attacking the hair follicles and hampers the hair growth pattern of an individual’s body. Follicles are minute structures or openings. It is basically the root from which hair grows. And when the immune system attacks it, they become smaller and the body’s ability to produce hair reduces. The symptoms develop suddenly in the course of a few days, use Symptom tracker which can prove to be helpful in managing the disease. It is completely different than other types of diseases where it takes much more time to become noticeable.
The entire condition is of two types, namely alopecia totalis and alopecia Universalis. The former is the loss of all hair on the scalp whereas the latter is the loss of all body hair. Alopecia totalis is more common in the people and Universalis occurs less frequently. If one gets this disease, one will also be prone to catching other autoimmune diseases which can affect the skin and hair. In some cases, treating one of them can help with the other as well but things can go in the other direction too. It means that it can also make things worse for the person suffering from it.
Alopecia areata is not common for people before the age of 30. It mostly occurs in adults in the age bracket of 30-60 years. But younger kids may also suffer from it in rare cases. People should not think that it is a communicable or contagious disease. Hair fall also occurs when people take up birth control therapies or in females at the end of pregnancy. As these are common and easily curable instances.
Diagnosis of alopecia areata
On paying a visit to a doctor a person may get satisfactory results based on the symptoms. Usually, it is not so hard for doctors to identify whether the person is suffering from alopecia areata or not. The doctor will take into consideration all the symptoms which the individual might be experiencing and get to the inference.
The extent of hair loss or just the examination of a few hair samples under the microscope might be enough for the doctor to diagnose it. Other visible factors which can be looked at by the doctor involve short hairs. Affected area or patch might also have ruptured, thin and grey hairs.
Skin biopsy can also be conducted to be 100% sure about it. To carry out a biopsy, a small piece of skin as a sample is taken from the scalp of the patient. And it is analyzed along with blood tests to get the proper and accurate results. Taking up the biopsy will also bring out the possible causes for the hair loss which the person may be going through.
Although the disease or condition cannot be treated completed or cured. But the doctors may undertake procedures that will help in speeding up the process of regrowth of hair quickly. Treatment of this depends completely on the extent of hair loss and the extent of the area affected by it. Based on all these conditions there are a variety of treatment options available.
There are certain medications which are available through a prescription that can be applied directly on the scalp to help in the stimulation of hair growth. Topical immunotherapy one of the most used methods. It is a classic technique in which a chemical is used to generate an allergy. A rash gets generated through the chemical which induces the growth of hair. But the individual getting this therapy done must take proper care for proper growth. He can also take-up treatment tracker for checking the positive effects of therapy from the doctor.
Injections containing steroids are yet another useful methods to treat the hair fall. It is injected into the patch from where the hair loss is taking place and needs to be repeated regularly for visible results. Oral treatments are also taken up by the people. Under these tablets are taken for gaining the normal hair growth pattern. But consultation from a doctor is a must in order to avoid any side effects which may occur.
How to cope with its effects in daily life?
Alopecia areata can bring a major downfall in the life of any person. It’s a scientific fact that loss of hair also brings down the self-confidence of any person. For children, it can become a cause of bullying and teasing. The constant fear of getting mocked by fellow classmates will affect the kid emotionally.
Parents must take special care of their kid if they notice any change in their behavior which may be due to bullying. They can persuade their kids to go for counseling which will prove to be helpful for body image and self-confidence issues. At this stage, they want to stay in style with the latest haircuts and trending styles. And being unsuccessful in doing so can be very challenging for them especially at such a tender age.
Non-uniform hair can make it tough for a person to maintain the image in public. For youngsters, it can be very depressing and challenging to cope up with such situations. Shaving the head and going completely bald is one way to deal with it if the person is brave enough. Wigs and hairpieces can also come in handy for people going through the phase of hair fall. However, they can be very expensive but may act as a good substitute until the effects of the treatments kick in.