Alopecia – What are the causes?

young  woman holding fallen hair; hair loss
Young woman holding fallen hair; hair loss

Alopecia Areata

What exactly is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease that causes irregular hair loss. In the United States, it affects around 6.8 million individuals.

The majority of the time, hair falls out in tiny patches the size of a quarter. Most people’s hair loss is limited to a few spots. However, it can be more severe in certain situations. It can sometimes cause total hair loss on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in challenging circumstances, the entire body (alopecia Universalis). Anyone, regardless of age or gender, might be affected by the disease. However, most occurrences occur before the age of 30.

Alopecia areata is a kind of hair loss that is a non-life-threatening immune system illness that damages the hair on your scalp. When you have this disease, your body misidentifies your hair follicles as an enemy. As a result, your body attacks the hair follicles. Some or all of your hair will fall out as a result of this. It generally starts with your hair on top of your head, and there are three severe types of alopecia, which are as follows:

Alopecia areata is not infectious. However, it is more frequent among youngsters and people in their early twenties.

Alopecia differs from telogen effluvium hair loss, caused by physical stress such as fast weight loss or pregnancy. However, telogen effluvium hair loss is more common, and your hair generally grows back following this kind of hair loss.

Alopecia; is it more common in men or women?

Alopecia is a frequent issue among women. There are several kinds of alopecia, each with its etiology and healing possibilities. Hair loss, regardless of the reason or type of alopecia, can have a damaging influence on an individual’s self-image; hence, it is important to treat patients’ emotional and physiological health requirements. Although there are few FDA-approved pharmacologic treatments for female alopecia, many medicines are being studied for use in this group. Whether or not a patient chooses to use pharmaceutical therapy, minimizing measures can help reduce hair loss and decrease the emotional burden of this disease.

Alopecia, often known as hair loss, is a condition that affects millions of people in the United States and does not relate to ordinary hair loss. It is usual for a person to lose 50 to 100 hairs every day. Thus, alopecia denotes a larger than average amount of hair loss. Male-pattern baldness has traditionally received greater attention; nevertheless, alopecia is popular in females and affects about 21 million females in the United States. 

Alopecia develops for a variety of reasons and reveals itself in a variety of ways. It might happen quickly or gradually over time. Illness, nutrition, medicines, and childbirth are all examples of sudden onset reasons. However, gradual onset alopecia is more likely to have a hereditary component.

Male Alopecia Areata

Though many men who do not have alopecia areata lose or have lost their hair, the bald appearance of males is acceptable. However, adjusting to a diagnosis of alopecia areata as a man may still be incredibly difficult tough. Therefore, NAAF offers a variety of services and tools to help male patients with alopecia areata.

Women’s Alopecia Areata

Women suffering from alopecia are immediately confronted with the abrupt change in their appearance, as well as the consequences for how they perceive themselves and how society perceives them. Therefore, NAAF gives various actions and services designed to help women with their fight against alopecia areata.

Alopecia Areata; How It Affects Your Employment

Although alopecia areata does not affect one’s physical ability to perform at work, many people are distracted by their new looks and the perceived responses of coworkers.

It is totally up to you whether or not you choose to discuss your alopecia areata with your coworkers. For many people, it is determined by their type of work environment, the amount of closeness they feel with their coworkers, and, ultimately, the level of security they feel in sharing their problems.

Individuals have spoken up about their alopecia areata in various ways at work, but the majority of them involve some illness education. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the NAAF organization if you would like to learn about different tactics utilized to educate the workplace about alopecia areata and other ways that individuals have spoken up about their illness.

Your Relationship and Alopecia Areata

Adult alopecia areata varies from childhood alopecia areata in that most people have established their position in society by the time they reach adulthood. Most individuals are involved in various interactions depending on their identity, including how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them.

According to the support group “Bald Girls Do Lunch,” most women struggle feeling confident and or being positive about their baldness. With today’s view of hair being part of a women’s sexuality this is something else women struggle with and the list goes on.

It might be challenging to open up to a significant other about one’s alopecia areata, but many are doing this right after entering into an affectionate relationship with someone, while others wait until they have developed a greater trust in this significant other.

Alopecia areata signs and symptoms

Hair loss in tiny, circular patches on your head is the most common sign of alopecia areata. This exposes smooth, peach-colored regions of the scalp. A simple form of alopecia areata begins with one to two bald patches the size of a coin. In many cases, that is where it ends. Hair can grow back in most cases, but there is no promise. The condition is random, and the cycle of hair loss and regrowth might return.

Alopecia areata can progress to a different kind of alopecia, Alopecia Universalis. In its most severe form, causes the loss of all of the body hair including the brows, eyelashes, arms, legs, underarms, pubic hair. And for males the chest, and back hair. Alopecia patients may seldom experience burning or itching in areas where they formerly had hair.

Patients may also notice changes in their fingernails and toenails. For example, nails might be rough, have minor dents also known as pitting or have white patches or lines.

What is the cause of alopecia areata?

There is currently no known cause of alopecia areata. Instead, it’s an autoimmune disorder that attacks the hair follicles thus resulting in hair loss. Scientists believe the disease’s origins may be linked to a person’s DNA. They assume that a virus or something in your environment may have caused the illness in that scenario. However most of the time it is unexplained what triggers the loss of one’s hair.

How is alopecia areata identified?

Consult your doctor if you are losing a lot of hair. There are several causes of hair loss. But first, your doctor will examine your hair loss pattern. Next, they will go through your medical history with you. Following, they will look at your scalp to see if the hairless regions are smooth and peach-colored. The remaining hair in alopecia areata might have a distinct form so if your doctor cannot confirm a diagnosis, he may send you for additional testing. When arriving for additional testing, they will remove a tiny sample of your scalp skin and examine it more closely. The procedure can help them rule out other causes of hair loss. A person with alopecia may also be subject to a blood test to rule out other autoimmune disorders.

Is it possible to prevent or avoid alopecia areata?

The disease cannot be avoided or prevented. The reason is unclear and ranges from person to person. Some people feel that alopecia areata is caused by stress. Others feel they have a genetic inclination to alopecia areata. Having a family member with alopecia areata or similar immune system disease increases your chances of getting it. Type one diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid illness, lupus, Addison’s disease, and atopic dermatitis are examples of immune system disorders. It is uncommon for a parent to transmit the disease to their child. 

Treatment for alopecia areata

Alopecia areata has no known treatment. If you have a few minor spots of hair loss on your head, your hair will most likely grow back in a few months and in such cases, your doctor may decline to recommend therapy.

Your doctor may prescribe steroid injections underneath your scalp for more noticeable regions of hair loss. This may help with hair regrowth. Other treatments include hair growth medications, including steroids that are applied to the skin or the scalp.

Another option is contact immunotherapy. It is intended to create an allergic response on your scalp, which may result in hair growth. In addition, the medication presented to your scalp during this therapy and will irritate your skin, making it red and scaly. If this therapy works, hair growth might take up to three months. Side effects of contact immunotherapy include a severe rash and enlarged lymph nodes in your neck.

Hair loss generally returns after treatment is stopped, no matter what therapy you attempt.

Having alopecia areata

Living with alopecia areata may be emotionally draining, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). It impacts social interaction and self-confidence since many are embarrassed to show their hair loss to others. It can also be frustrating not knowing if your hair will grow back or fall out again.

Consider joining a patient support group for those suffering from alopecia areata. Support groups allow you to discuss your illness with people going through similar illnesses. They help you understand you are not alone in your alopecia frustration. In addition, a support group may be a great source of sound advice on how to deal with the disease.

Hairstyling techniques or hair care products might help in hiding bare areas on your head. Some products, however, might be harmful to your hair. This may result in extra hair loss. You should see your doctor about which products to avoid. People with alopecia areata are encouraged to express themselves through hats, scarves, and wigs.

Loss of eyelashes, brows, and hair in your nose and ears can also be an issue. Hair shields your eyes, nose, and ears from dust, bacteria, and tiny foreign particles. To protect your eyes, put on eyeglasses or sunglasses. To keep bacteria at bay, put antibiotic ointment inside your nose.

To minimize your risk of sunburn and skin cancer, wear a hat or apply sunscreen to exposed scalp regions.

Natural cures

Because conventional therapies for alopecia are exceedingly restricted, research supporting natural remedies for alopecia are even fewer.

Some individuals advocate massaging the scalp with onion or garlic juice, cooled green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, honey, or coconut milk. While none of them are likely to cause damage, the evidence does not support their efficacy. Some people seek alternative therapies such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, although there is little evidence to support these practices.

Alopecia’s emotional impact

Alopecia may have an impact on both people’s emotions and their physical appearance. Hair loss and regeneration can have numerous “ups and downs,” according to Ben. When their hair initially started coming out and sought a diagnosis, several of the young people we spoke with found it incredibly upsetting. 

Others stated they weren’t very concerned when they initially discovered alopecia, especially if they were diagnosed as a youngster. Kayla was four years old when her hair loss began, and she believes it has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. It wasn’t until a rumor about Rosie’s illness surfaced at her school that she began to feel self-conscious about her appearance. 

For a long time, those living with alopecia said that it grew easier to deal with, and some people found methods to feel more confident and accept their hair loss. Hannah has had alopecia for five years and describes it as a “huge acceptance journey.” Much has been stated about the emotional aspects of living with alopecia in the context of family life, school and university, and friendships and relationships.

Anxiety, depression, and social phobia can all be intensified by hair loss. Depression can cause a poor mood, a lack of interest or pleasure in activities, fatigue, and sleep deprivation. Anxiety can lead to unnecessary worrying, trouble managing one’s feelings, and a sense of increased tension. 

Bottom line

The subject of having children as an adult with alopecia areata is truly unavoidable. Many people with alopecia are concerned that they may pass it on to their children, which negatively influences their view. Because alopecia areata is a complex disease, there is no way to accurately evaluate the chance of passing it on to your children. Scientists believe that a variety of genes influence certain people to the disorder. 

Alopecia areata is a ‘polygenic illness,’ which means that it is caused by a combination of genes inherited from both parents and environmental factors. Unusually, a kid would inherit all of the genes required to predispose them to the condition, and the chances are stacked in your favor if you do not allow the disorder to stop you.

One response to “Alopecia – What are the causes?”

  1. […] However, it is necessary to note that onion juice is not a cure for severe hair loss cases like alopecia and baldness. In these cases, it may only help prevent further hair loss […]

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