Alopecia areata: Causes, symptoms, and treatment
Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune condition that causes sporadic hair loss. In the United States, it affects around 6.8 million people.
Hair falls out in little patches about the size of a quarter in the majority of cases. For the most part, hair loss is limited to a few spots, however, it can be more severe in certain circumstances. It can sometimes result in total hair loss on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in severe cases, the entire body (alopecia Universalis).
Anyone, regardless of age or gender, can be affected, albeit the majority of instances occur before the age of 30. The causes and symptoms of alopecia areata, as well as its diagnosis and treatment options, are discussed in this article.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes common hair loss. There is presently no cure for alopecia areata, although doctors can recommend treatments to help hair regrow more quickly.
Corticosteroids, potent anti-inflammatory medicines that can suppress the immune system, are the most common kind of alopecia areata treatment. Local injections, topical ointment application, and oral administration are the most common methods of administration.
Minoxidil, Anthralin, SADBE, and DPCP are some of the other drugs that can be recommended to increase hair growth or alter the immune system. Although some of them may aid in hair regrowth, they will not prevent new bald patches from forming.
Photochemotherapy is a type of treatment that uses light to kill cancer cells.
Some studies back, making it a viable option for individuals who are unable or unable to employ systemic or invasive medicines.
Hair provides some protection from the weather in addition to its cosmetic value. People with alopecia areata who miss their hair’s protective properties may want to:
-If you’re going to be outside in the sun, wear sunscreen.
-Wear wraparound glasses to shield your eyes from the sun and dirt that your brows and eyelashes would typically protect you from.
-Use headwear such as hats, wigs, and scarves to keep the head warm and protected from the sun.
-Apply ointment to the inside of the nose to keep the membranes moist and defend against germs that are normally caught by nostril hair.
Alopecia areata is not communicable and does not make people sick. It can, however, be tough to emotionally adjust to. Alopecia areata is a terrible disease for many people, and it requires treatment that addresses both the mental and physical aspects of hair loss.
Some have compared alopecia areata to vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disorder in which the body assaults melanin-producing cells and causes white patches. According to research, these two diseases may have similar pathophysiology, with the diseases being driven by comparable types of immune cells and cytokines and having common genetic risk factors.
As a result, any advancements in the treatment or prevention of one disease could have ramifications for the other.
Treatment for alopecia areata with diphencyprone (DCP), a contact sensitizer, has been linked to the development of vitiligo in a few documented cases.
Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, has been shown in animal studies to prevent the development of alopecia areata and successfully treat current hair loss.
Before quercetin may be considered a treatment for alopecia areata, more research is needed, including human clinical trials.
The disorder develops when white blood cells attack the cells in hair follicles, causing them to shrink and hair development to drop substantially. It’s unclear what triggers the immune system to attack hair follicles in this manner.
While scientists are unknown why these changes occur, it appears that genetics have a role, as alopecia areata is more likely to occur in someone who has a close relative who has the disease. A family member with alopecia areata affects one out of every five patients with the illness.
According to a recent study, many patients with a family history of alopecia areata also have a personal or family history of other autoimmune conditions, such as atopy, a hyperallergic disorder, thyroiditis, and vitiligo.
Despite popular belief, there is little scientific evidence to support the theory that stress causes alopecia areata. Extreme stress may precipitate the illness, but the majority of recent research indicates a genetic etiology.
Because studies supporting natural treatments for alopecia are scarce, studies supporting natural remedies for alopecia are even scarcer.
Some people recommend 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 harm, research does not support their effectiveness.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and aromatherapy are used by some people, despite the fact that there is little, if any, evidence to back them up.