All About Alopecia Areata
Educate yourself about alopecia areata, the hair loss condition that affects millions.
Hair loss, male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness and receding hairline are terms you might have heard in everyday conversations. There is another culprit that brings about baldness, which affects a vast number of the population but doesn’t get its due attention.
Alopecia areata is a condition that leads to sudden hair loss, starting with a single circular patch that may advance to more balding patches, sometimes overlapping each other. It doesn't make for a pretty picture. The condition is triggered when your own immune system starts attacking the hair follicles. The condition is sometimes brought on by severe stress.
A proper medical diagnosis is required to accurately identify the condition. While alopecia areata is not a curable condition, treatments may help manage the condition. Dr Rinky Kapoor, Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Dermato-Surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics, explains, “Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder of the scalp and causes unpredictable hair loss in men, women and children. The hair starts to fall in small patches usually the size of a quarter. However, this condition can affect larger patches of hair on the scalp and sometimes cause total loss of hair on the head (alopecia totalis) or on the entire body i.e., alopecia universalis.
Spread Far and Wide
Alopecia areata is a health condition that can occur in people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, and geographic locations. While alopecia is primary to the hair on your head, it can affect universally, causing hair loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and body hair.
The condition may resolve in a few months, but it can also recur at any point in time. The extent of hair loss and regrowth changes from person to person.
While the condition can occur multiple times in a person's lifetime, it doesn't always come back. Besides, the hair loss caused by alopecia is not permanent since the hair follicles themselves are alive and hair can grow back once the immune system stops attacking the targeted cells. The Asian population is less likely to be affected by this condition than other ethnicities.
“Hair fall occurs because the immune system sees the cells around hair follicles as invaders and attacks them. This causes the hair to fall off. The good news is that the hair follicles are not destroyed and the hair regrows on its own in most cases,” Dr Kapoor adds.
Speaking of the causes of alopecia areata, she says, “There are no pinpointed causes of alopecia areata but scientists believe that it can occur because of:
- Personal history of autoimmune disorders such as atopy
- Medical conditions like Asthma, hay fever, vitiligo, down syndrome, thyroid disease
- Cancer treatment drugs”
Dr Kapoor clarifies, “You can get alopecia areata at any age and it is not discriminated by gender and location. There is no cure for alopecia areata but top dermatologists recommend some treatments that can help regrow the hair quickly.”
- Use of corticosteroids that suppress the immune system. These injections are injected in the bare patches of skin and help in hair growth. These are also available in the form of oral pills and topical ointments.
- Oral and topical medications - These include medications like Minoxidil and Anthralin cream. These should be used under the direction of the doctor only.
- Phototherapy and light treatments - These are generally used for patients who don’t want to use invasive therapies.
- QR678 hair regrowth treatment - QR678 contains specific growth factors that help reduce the inflammation on the scalp and accelerates hair growth in the hair follicles.
Laser and Light Therapy
Light therapy, also called photochemotherapy, is one of the safest and most effective therapies for alopecia patients. A light sensitiser is used to blast specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light to offer a healing effect to the affected areas of the scalp.
Specific doses of radiation are delivered in the laser therapy to encourage new hair growth.
Aromatherapy and other herbal masques are also available to help curb the condition. The viability of these methods is not foolproof and hence has received no recognition.
Living with Alopecia
Certain preventive measures can help you lead a happy and healthy life without recurrences.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet
- Fresh vegetables and protein-rich food must be included in the daily diet
- Regular exercise such as yoga may help manage stress and keep the body healthy
- Maintain vitamin D levels in the body
- Do not use chemical-based hair styling products
Dr Kapoor suggests that people suffering from alopecia areata should also
- Wear sunscreen always
- Protect the scalp by wearing a hat or scarf over it
- Wear glasses to protect the eyebrow and eyelash hair
Several types of alopecia areata affect different people, which is why it is crucial to consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and accurate treatment. Each type is characterised by a varied extent of hair loss and other symptoms with a differing prognosis.
There are support groups and foundations that help individuals living with alopecia cope better with their medical condition.
Life can be tough with a condition like alopecia. But know your condition well and visit your doctor regularly to lead a hassle-free life.
Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.