Alopecia Areata: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment
A woman’s hair can feel central to her femininity. When it begins to fall out without warning, it can be hugely worrisome for those affected, especially if it’s alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata can be challenging for any person, but it’s especially difficult for women who view their hair as their crowning glory. Even though 147 million people have the condition worldwide, it’s not widely talked about in the Philippines. As a result, getting alopecia areata treatment can be alienating for many people.
In this article, we answer these commonly asked questions about the hair loss condition:
- What is Alopecia Areata?
- What Causes Alopecia Areata?
- What are the Symptoms of Alopecia Areata?
- Is there Treatment for Alopecia Areata?
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to shed in small round bald patches. What happens is, the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, resulting in the coin-sized patches. In most cases, they’re visually unnoticeable. However, these patches may connect and become more visible. Sudden hair loss often occurs on the scalp, but it can also happen on the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of the body.
What Causes Alopecia Areata?
It is not yet fully understood what causes the immune attack on hair follicles but here are some possible triggers.
Stress or Illness
In most people with alopecia areata, the onset of hair loss has no clear explanation. But in some, emotional stress, physical injury, or illness may trigger an abnormal immune response that leads to the onset of the condition.
Malnutrition, including low levels in iron or Vitamin D, may be one of the underlying causes of alopecia areata. While the American Academy of Dermatology states that more research is needed, it’s still best to include enough protein, vitamins, and nutrients in your meals.
The thyroid is a neck gland that controls hormones related to metabolism. Both overactive and low thyroid can trigger alopecia areata. Ask your doctor about a thyroid test if your hair loss is accompanied by:
- High or low energy
- Unexplained weight changes
- Menstrual changes
Is it genetic?
Alopecia areata is a complex disease with several genes acting as contributing factors. So it is difficult to accurately calculate the risk of passing it on to children. It is known that most children with alopecia areata do not have a parent with the condition and majority of parents with alopecia areata do not pass it on to their children.
Alopecia Areata: Know the Symptoms
The main symptoms of alopecia areata are small, round bald patches on your head. These leave smooth, flesh-colored areas of the scalp exposed. Mild cases of alopecia areata start with one to two hair loss patches the size of a peso coin. In many instances, it will stop after that, and the hair will grow back. However, as the condition is unpredictable, there’s no guarantee that the hair will grow back. The cycle of hair loss and regrowth may repeat itself. While it’s rare, people who have alopecia areata may also feel itching or burning in the areas where they once had hair.
If left untreated, alopecia areata can also grow into another form of alopecia — alopecia universalis. This manifests into a symptom where you lose all body hair. Some people with alopecia areata also see changes in their toenails and fingernails. Nails can have white spots or lines, tiny dents (pitting), and be rough.
Living with Alopecia Areata
At Svenson, we recognize that living with alopecia areata can be emotionally difficult. It affects self-confidence and social interaction, as people are embarrassed to let others know and see their hair loss. It can also be frustrating to not know if your hair is going to fall out again or grow back.
For people dealing with alopecia areata, know that you are not alone in your struggles. You may consider joining a support group or you can also talk to an expert, like the certified Trichologists at Svenson, for practical tips about living with the condition and treatments that can help you regrow your hair.
Hair care products and hairstyling techniques can also help cover bare patches on your scalp. However, some products can be harsh on your hair, causing additional hair loss and damage. Talk to a Svenson trichologist about products you should avoid. Also, make sure to cover areas of exposed scalp with sunscreen or a hat to reduce your risk of sunburn and skin cancer.
Alopecia Areata Treatment
Unfortunately, there’s currently no known cure for alopecia areata. If you notice small patches of hair loss on your scalp, your hair will likely grow back within a few months. There are others who resort to just covering up their bald patches, but it is important to know that if left untreated, alopecia areata can worsen and lead to complete hair loss. The best option is to find a treatment for women’s hair loss that can help your hair follicles to regrow healthily.
If you are experiencing significant hair loss, it’s best to seek help from the Trichologists at Svenson. They will review your medical history, look at your hair loss pattern, and recommend treatments that are best suited to address your particular case. The earlier you seek treatment, the more hair you can keep and save.
Book a free hair and scalp analysis with one of our certified trichologists now. Call 8892 HAIR.