Alopecia Areata – Hair Loss

Spot baldness or more commonly known as Alopecia Areata, occurs when an individual experienced hair loss in round spots. This is known as an autoimmune type disease that attacks the individual’s hair follicles. The actual cause of the disease is still unknown; however the disease seems to be transmitted genetically.

rrred by istolethetv, on FlickrAlopecia is said to affect about 2% of individuals worldwide at some point in life development. The disease can vary in severity, and the terms of the severity show up in the amount of hair lost. A term known as Alopecia totalis is when an individual has lost all the hair on the scalp area. Alopecia universalis is a condition when an individual experiences an entire hair loss over the whole body. This will include body hair, pubic hair, lashes and even the eyebrows. Alopecia monocularis is hair loss experienced in a localized spot and Alopecia multiocularis is hair lost over multiple spots on the body.

The disease usually begins with small bald patches that are round in shape on the area of the individual’s scalp. However, Alopecia can start on any area of the body where hair grows such as pubic areas, mustaches and beards. In certain cases the hair will at some point regrow and the disease is even known to affect the toenails or nail where pitting and dents will begin to appear.

The illness is unpredictable and will differ from one individual to the next. The fortunate aspect of the disease is the chance that the hair can regrow; the disease can be a once off occurrence that will over time correct itself. Or the pattern of hair loss and then regrowth will continue of the lifespan of the affected individual.

The disease has not been classified as serious, however, it has been noted that there are higher incidences of the disease in individuals who suffer from allergies and autoimmune diseases. The actual disease Alopecia Areata on its own does not present any serious symptoms. The symptoms will include mild itchiness or occasional irritations to the areas that have experienced hair loss.

Due to the fact that there are various other disorders that have been known to cause hair loss, a diagnosis must be administered in order to rule out the presence of any other diseases. Some illnesses that cause hair loss are easily treatable, so it is important to ensure that these illnesses are not present before a diagnosis of Alopecia Areata is confirmed.

The diagnosis of Alopecia will include a skin or scalp biopsy, or the physician will pull on the hair in the affected area. Hair that pulls out easily may present the presence of Alopecia. However, a skin biopsy is a more accurate way to confirm the disease.

To date, there are no cures for the disease. In many cases the individuals who suffer from the illness will find that the hair grows back and no further treatment will be necessary. In more severe and extreme cases there are treatments that are used, such as:

-Minoxidil which is a solution that will need to be applied in the morning and evenings directly to the affected areas. Minoxidil is a treatment that is regarded safe for use in children and adults and usually will need to be used for at least three months at a time to show up any effective results.

-Corticosteroids are anti inflammatory drugs that are used to suppress the immune system. This medication is prescribed either orally, by injection or in the form of a topical ointment. The oral corticosteroids are only prescribed in extreme cases as the side effects of the drugs are usually unfavorable. The treatment is usually effective within four weeks of regular use.

Individuals who experience total or severe hair loss head covers such as scarves and hats or hairpieces can be utilized in order to cover up the bald areas. These coverings will not affect the chances of regrowth and can help the individuals to feel less self conscious about their condition.

The fortunate aspect of the disease is that most individuals are able to continue a normal and healthy lifestyle regardless of the severity of the disease. Head coverings are a way to lead a more normal lifestyle in the event of total hair loss.