What is Alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss from the head or body.It can affect anyone regardless of age and gender.Alopecia areata starts with one or more bald patches and can develop into total scalp hair loss(alopecia totalis) and sometimes total body hair loss(alopecia universalis).
Alopecia areata causes:
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles(i.e:structure of the skin from which hair grows) instead of harmful foreign invaders.It is not life threatening and also there is no damage to hair follicles,but most of the patients go through depression and anxiety due to severe hair loss.
Alopecia areata symptoms:
1)Bald patches on scalp
2)Bald patches on eyebrows,beard and other parts of body(i.e:alopecia universalis)
3)Nails can lose their shine
4)Nails can become thin
5)Can have white rough lines on nails
Treatment for Alopecia areata:
75% of the people who experience just a few patches of hair loss often have a spontaneous full recovery without any form of treatment,while other 25% people experience continuous cycle of hair loss and hair growth or more extensive hair loss.Dermatologist may suggest one of the following treatments after careful study of your condition.There is no proper cure for alopecia areata.It may work for few and may not for others.
1)Corticosteroids:More often this medicine is taken in the form of injections.Dermatologist injects into the places with hair loss. Several injections (about 1 cm apart) are usually given at each session of treatment. Therefore, large bald areas are not suitable for steroid injections.Usually hair growth can be seen within 4-8 weeks.The injections are repeated once a month.Sometimes medicine is applied in the form of ointments,cream or gel which are called as topical steroids.This type of medicine is more often recommended to children,patients who can’t bear pain or patients with large bald patches.Hair growth can be seen after 3-4 months.Also,regrown hair are likely to fall out when the corticosteroids are stopped.
2)Minoxidil:Minoxdil slows down hair loss and promotes hair growth.It is applied twice a day on scalp,eyebrows,beard or hair infected areas.Patients should experience hair growth within 3-6 months otherwise there is no point in continuing.Mostly this medicine is well tolerated,but few patients may experience side effects i.e:itching, redness or irritation at the treated area,rashes,swelling on the treated area.Treatment must be continued in order to maintain the hair.
3)Diphencyprone (DPCP):When applied to the infected area it triggers a small allergy(redness, swelling, and itching). This allergy is believed to trick the immune system in preventing further hair loss and promotes hair growth.Treatment must be continued in order to maintain the hair.
4)Anthralin:Anthralin is a tar-like substance which is applied to the skin daily and washed off after 30-50 minutes.Hair growth can be seen within 8-12 weeks.This medicine can be irritating to the skin and may cause brown rashes on the skin.
5)Wigs:If you are unwilling to go through all the pain involved in treatment,this is the best option available out there.There are many companies making good wigs for alopecia and chemotherapy patients.You can opt for customized wigs if you are willing to spend little more money.