There are some individuals who suffer from hair loss issues unrelated to hair-thinning. In fact, they are suffering from a specific condition called alopecia areata, which can strike at an age. This type of hair loss is characterized by several key symptoms. This article explores the signs of alopecia areata along with causes and options for dealing with this condition.
Alopecia areata is actually an autoimmune disease, meaning that it causes an individual’s immune system to attack healthy tissues within the body. With alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the body’s hair follicles, causing them to fall out. This can appear as bald patches on the head, or it can affect the entire head (alopecia areata totalis). When hair follicles all over the body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, arm hair, leg hair and pubic hair are affected, this condition is referred to as alopecia areata universalis. In most cases, only specific patches of hair are affected.
There are several signs and symptoms of alopecia areata, including:
Alopecia areata is caused by an autoimmune disorder. It can occur in men, women and children and often begins at an early age. The major risk factor for alopecia areata that has been identified is genetics. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 20 percent of people with this condition have a family history of alopecia areata. In some rare instances, a major life event can trigger the condition. Examples of this include pregnancy, trauma or serious illness.
People with alopecia areata should be aware that having autoimmune disease causes them and their blood relatives to have a higher risk for certain medical conditions, including:
There are currently no methods for preventing alopecia areata. However, there are some treatments available for those who currently have the condition, including:
It’s very important to discuss possible side effects with your doctor before beginning treatment. Furthermore, be aware that not all treatments are effective or permanent, and hair may fall out again in the future.
A doctor can diagnose this condition with a physical assessment of a person’s hair loss. In other cases, a skin biopsy or hair sample can be used to confirm that an individual has the autoimmune disease. It’s important to see your doctor if you are experiencing patchy hair loss since this could be a sign of other, more dangerous conditions besides alopecia areata.
There are several tools available to individuals with alopecia areata to help manage their condition. Different hair styles can often cover bald spots, while wigs, scarves and hats can be used to cover larger bald areas. There are also different make-up products available to help with certain types of hair loss, such as eyebrow pencils which can fill in for hair lost on the face. In addition, there are several support groups and online resources which provide assistance and guidance for those with the condition.