Hair & Skin, Health

Alopecia Areata: A Hair Loss Disease You Might Be Suffering From

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Alopecia Areata: A Hair Loss Disease You Might Be Suffering From

Ever combed your hair and noticed strands of hair fall out in small noticeable patches?  Have you observed a particular bald spot on your head?  Here’s the thing…you might be suffering from alopecia areata. 

So, What’s The Cause Of This Disease?

As I said, alopecia areata is a disease that causes an irregular fallout of hair strands. It is an example of an autoimmune disease.  Basically, the immune system fights foreign bodies found in your system through the release of antibodies. These antibodies differentiate the healthy cells from the foreign cells and launch an attack on the invading cells.

When you have an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or hair cells, as foreign. It then releases special proteins known as autoantibodies that attack these healthy cells. 

With alopecia areata, the hair follicles are attacked. Hair follicles are responsible for the production of more hair strands. The follicles gradually become smaller and stop producing hair- leading to hair loss. This causes receding hairline and intense hair fall, sometimes in clumps. The rate of loss is not the same for everybody. Sometimes, only a few hair strands are lost, while some others could lose a whole lot!

If you were wondering, researchers don’t know the exact cause of this hair loss disease. Notwithstanding, since the disease is mostly observed in people with a family history of autoimmune diseases, scientists speculate that genetics might have a role to play in the occurrence of this disease.     

If you have this disease, although rare, it is possible to lose all the hair on your head (alopecia areata totalis), or on your entire body- including your eyebrows, eyelashes (alopecia areata universalis).  

What Are The Symptoms of Alopecia Areata?

The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. However, the extent of hair loss may differ from person to person. You might notice strands of hair on your pillow, or in the shower. And, people may draw your attention to it if the spots are very much noticeable. Hair loss can occur in other parts of the body aside from the head, like the beard. Although rare, Alopecia barbae, which is the specific form of alopecia areata that involves the beard, could cause a significant level of beard loss. The exact same factors that affect Alopecia areata are what causes alopecia barbae. If you’re wondering: “How long does Alopecia barbae last?” the answer is not entirely clear-cut just as for other forms of alopecia areata. However, progression can be slowed with treatment. 

It is not easy to predict how alopecia would develop. It might either be spontaneous and sudden or gradual and steady. First off, it comes in the form of several circular patches about the size of a quarter- which begin to overlap once more hair is lost. Since the surrounding hair observes the ripple antibody effect, the hair around the edges of these patches usually turns white. How long does alopecia barbae last? Give it between 6-12 months, provided there is a regular use of medication.   

Is There A Cure For Alopecia Areata?

Sadly, there is no known cure for alopecia areata. However, there are treatments that could help you slow down the rate of your hair loss, help speed up the hair growth process and prevent a receding hairline. The alopecia treatments also feature unique ways to cover up for your hair loss.

An example of such treatments is the application of medications to your scalp to stimulate hair growth. A number of medications are available, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Anthralin is a drug that irritates the skin in order to spur hair growth. A licensed medicine in the United Kingdom know as Minoxidil can also help to combat hair loss.

Again, for mild cases of alopecia, steroid injections are often common. In cases of oral treatments, cortisone tablets are often administered. With these alopecia areata treatments, you would observe an improvement in the level of hair loss you experience.