Everyone loses hair at a different rates, however some people tend to suffer from localised hair loss. Those affected suffer significant losses and even if the hair grows back, it may fall out again in the future. Recent study has shown that about 147 million individuals all over the world suffer from alopecia areata. A typical area of alopecia areata hair loss is the size of a quarter. Despite the fact that alopecia areata often only manifests in a small number of patches, it can spread across a much larger area of the scalp. Alopecia can affect anyone at any time, but those with a family history of the disorder may be more likely to experience the symptoms of alopecia areata themselves. Alopecia areata is also more common in families where someone else suffers from an autoimmune condition like diabetes, lupus, or thyroiditis. This article discusses alopecia areata, including its types, symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Types of Alopecia Areata
There are various types of this syndrome. The primary type of alopecia areata is the most prevalent, although there are other, rarer varieties as follows:
Alopecia areata totalis
This refers to a condition in which the affected person loses all of the hair from their head.
Alopecia areata universalis
In this particular circumstance, the individual loses all of their hair across their entire body.
Diffuse alopecia areata
This is a sudden hair thinning as opposed to the loss of individual strands.
Ophiasis alopecia areata
This results in a band-like pattern of hair loss across the sides and back of the head.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
The autoimmune disorder known as alopecia areata causes hair loss. When the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue rather than harmful invaders, an autoimmune disease ensues. The immune system’s typical function is to ward off infectious microorganisms and other potentially harmful outsiders. But with alopecia areata, your immune system wrongly assaults your hair follicles. The follicles in your scalp are where your hairs begin to develop. Alopecia occurs when hair follicles shrink and stop generating hair. The root of this ailment remains unknown to scientists. The presence of alopecia areata in one’s immediate family, as well as other health problems like Down syndrome, thyroid illness, vitiligo, and vitamin D insufficiency, have all been recognised as potential risk factors. Likewise, alopecia areata generated by nivolumab exists as a distinct medical entity. When this happens, nivolumab is no longer effective in treating the malignancy. When white blood cells target hair follicle cells, hair follicles shrink and hair growth slows significantly.
Symptoms of alopecia areata
Hair loss is the main sign of alopecia areata. On the scalp, hair typically sheds in sections. These blotches are frequently a few millimetres or smaller. Other areas of the body such as the beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows, may also experience hair loss. The first sign of hair may be clumps on your pillow or in the shower. Someone might point out the spots if they are on the back of your head. However, other medical disorders may also contribute to a similar pattern of hair loss. Alopecia areata cannot be diagnosed just based on hair loss. Rarely, some people may go through more severe hair loss.
Usually, this is a sign of another type of alopecia, such as alopecia totalis, which is the complete loss of scalp hair, or alopecia universalis, which is the complete loss of body hair. Because some persons may experience some hair loss between “totalis” and “universalis,” doctors may want to avoid using those phrases. For instance, the arms, legs, and scalp may lose all of their hair, but the chest may not.
The fingernails and toenails can also be affected by alopecia areata, and in some cases, these changes are the first indication that the problem is progressing. There are a variety of minor nail changes that can happen, such as little dents appearing on the nails, white spots and lines appearing, the nails becoming rough and dull, and the nails becoming thin and break are all symptoms of alopecia areata.
Treatment for Alopecia Areata
Although there is no proven treatment for alopecia areata, there are several methods you can take that may be able to prevent further hair loss or hasten the rate at which hair regrows. It could take a lot of trial and error before you find something that works for you because the condition is tough to forecast. Additionally, it’s critical to keep in mind that therapy doesn’t always work. Even with treatment, some people may still lose their hair. Among the remedies are:
1. Natural treatment
Alternative remedies are used by some people with alopecia areata to address their illness. However, it’s crucial to understand that each of these is an experiment. There is no reliable medical or scientific data to support their efficacy, and they have not been subjected to clinical testing. Acupuncture, aromatherapy, vitamins, minerals, essential oils, other oils (including coconut, tea tree, and castor oil), applying onion juice to the scalp, probiotics, and vitamins and supplements (such zinc and biotin) are some examples of natural and alternative remedies.
2. A healthy diet
Some people with an identified autoimmune illness might think about adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. This kind of food regimen is intended to lessen the body’s autoimmune response and the likelihood of another bout of hair loss or more hair loss. You eat foods on this diet that are known to reduce inflammation. This diet, often referred to as the autoimmune protocol, is based on lean proteins like wild-caught salmon as well as fruits and vegetables including blueberries, almonds, seeds, broccoli, and beets. In addition to lowering inflammation, eating a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables as well as lean meat is good for your general health.
3. Oral medications
Cortisone tablets are occasionally used for severe alopecia, but you should speak with a doctor about this choice owing to potential adverse effects. You can also try taking oral immunosuppressants like methotrexate and cyclosporine. They function by preventing the immune system from responding, but they should not be used for an extended amount of time because to the possibility of adverse effects include high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, an increased risk of serious infections, and a type of cancer called lymphoma.
Steroid injections are frequently used to promote hair regrowth on bald areas in patients with mild, patchy alopecia. The steroid is injected using tiny needles into the hairless area. The procedure must be performed every one to two months to promote hair growth. It does not stop the occurrence of fresh hair loss.
5. Topical drugs used in medicine
To promote hair development, you can massage drugs into your scalp. Several drugs, including Minoxidil (Rogaine), Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp), Corticosteroid creams like clobetasol (Impoyz), foams, lotions, and ointments, as well as topical immunotherapy, are available both over the counter (OTC) and by prescription.
6. Light and laser therapy
In addition to using a light sensitizer, light treatment is also known as photochemotherapy or phototherapy, which both use particular ultraviolet light wavelengths to have therapeutic effects. To promote the growth of new hair, laser therapy administers precise radiation dosages.
It is impossible to predict how well a particular treatment would work for a specific person because every case is unique. There are certain people who won’t need treatment because their hair will regrow on its own. On the other hand, there are some people who, despite the fact that they may have tried every treatment that is available, will not see any improvement in their condition.