What Is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes the hair on the scalp to fall out in one or more circular bald patches. Such a disorder occurs when the white blood cells attack the hair follicle and make the hair fall out.
There is no permanent cure for alopecia areata to date as it is genetically influenced in the majority of the cases. Taking the alopecia areata treatment can help an individual in recovering lost hair and live a life with some comfort.
Alopecia areata can occur in an individual anytime, irrespective of age and gender. Symptoms of Alopecia areata can manifest within a few days or weeks.
It is estimated by medical professionals that around 2.5 million people living in the United States are affected by alopecia areata.
How To Know About Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is one of the common hair loss disorders that is considered to be a nonscarring inflammatory disorder affecting hair follicles, causing patchy or complete hair loss.
Alopecia areata can trigger hair loss on the scalp, face, and rest of the body as well. One should be keen to start alopecia areata treatment in the early phases of the prognosis.
One can know about the occurrence of alopecia areata by witnessing the following alopecia areata symptoms.
- Small bald patches of hair loss on the scalp
- Losing a lot of hair over a short span of time
- Loss of facial hair like eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard
- Loss of hair all over the body
- Red and brittle nails
Experiencing an autoimmune disorder like alopecia areata can prove to be quite a stressful event in one’s life.
Many people suffer from low self-esteem, stress, and anxiety and might even get depressed. That is why medical professionals suggest inculcating therapy in alopecia areata treatment options to deal with the mental aspect of the disease.
In today’s medically advanced age, there are various alopecia areata treatment options that can range from medication, therapy, and surgery.
How Many Types Of Alopecia Areata Are There?
Alopecia areata can often be referred to as autoimmune alopecia by many medical experts, mainly because it is the autoimmune system that mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the body.
Alopecia areata has been classified into five different categories that are as follows.
- Patchy alopecia areata: Patchy alopecia areata occurs in an individual when one more circular patch of hair loss occurs on the scalp. This is the most common type of alopecia areata that is diagnosed among people.
- Alopecia areata totalis: Alopecia areata totalis occur when a person experiences a complete loss of hair on the scalp. Alopecia areata totalis is an advanced form of alopecia areata, a condition that causes round patches of hair loss.
- Alopecia areata universalis: Alopecia areata totalis occur when hair loss occurs all over the body of an individual. Around 1% of the total cases of alopecia areata amount to this particular category.
- Diffuse alopecia areata: Diffuse alopecia areata is defined as the sudden and unexpected thinning of hair on the scalp. Such a medical condition can often be confused with other hair loss conditions like telogen effluvium or male or female pattern hair loss.
- Ophiasis alopecia areata: Ophiasis alopecia areata is defined as the hair loss that occurs in a unique pattern. Hair loss usually occurs in a band-like pattern on the occipital, temporal, and parietal regions of the scalp.
With all the types of alopecia areata that are diagnosed, regrowth can be very unpredictable and can vary among patients.
Though there is no permanent cure for alopecia areata, hair follicles do remain alive no matter what kind of alopecia areata is present.
The possibility of hair regrowth is always present even after many years of severe and widespread hair loss.
Also Read: 4 Things To Improve Hair Health
How Do Doctors Treat Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata treatment will depend upon the particular type of alopecia areata that has been diagnosed. Factors like age and the extent of hair loss that is present are also considered before starting the treatment.
There are a variety of treatment options available to treat alopecia areata that can range from medicine, therapy, and surgical procedures. However, it is important to consult a medical professional before starting any particular treatment.
It is important to assure the patient about the possible benefit that could arise from a specific alopecia areata treatment.
Some of the major treatment options available for alopecia areata are as follows.
- Topical treatment: The most common way to treat alopecia areata is by taking the medication through a topical treatment. Topical medicines are those that are directly applied to a certain area of the skin.
Medicine like minoxidil, anthralin, and corticosteroids creams are available in the form of lotion, gel, and cream that can easily be applied on the scalp. Let your doctor know your complete medical history before starting any alopecia areata treatment.
- Injections: Medical professionals may recommend taking a steroid solution called Triamcinolone (Kenalog) through injection to treat mild and patchy alopecia.
Steroids like Kenalog work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system, to stop the body from attacking the hair follicles. The treatment is supposed to be repeated every one to two months to see signs of possible regrowth.
- Topical Immunotherapy: Topical immunotherapy is recommended for severe cases of alopecia areata where hair loss occurs more than once.
The therapy is done by applying chemicals on the scalp to trigger an allergic reaction that can promote hair regrowth. Topical immunotherapy is the best-documented treatment so far for severe and refractory alopecia areata.
One should inform the doctor about all the alopecia areata symptoms before undergoing such medical treatment.
- Surgical options: In severe cases of alopecia areata, when all other treatments do not show any promising results, one can rely on getting a surgical procedure like a hair transplant done.
Advanced medical procedures like platelet-rich plasma therapy may have a positive therapeutic effect on Alopecia Areata. It is easy to perform and shows effective results without any remarkable adverse effects.
Living with alopecia areata can prove to be mentally challenging, but it does not cause any life-threatening complications. One should keep an eye out for alopecia areata symptoms to start early treatment.
It should be known that all the alopecia areata treatment options available might not give promising results.
However, if hair does not grow back, one should not be discouraged and should try different ways to cover the hair and protect the scalp. Experiencing sudden hair loss can occur due to various reasons apart from alopecia areata.
It is always advisable to get in touch with a medical professional to know the exact reason.