Alopecia Areata

Background

Alopecia areata is a form of hair loss which normally affects the scalp. It manifests itself in the form of bald patches. Alopecia areata is common to both males and females. The cause of alopecia areata is believed to be a disorder of the autoimmune system wherein the hair follicles are targeted.

Generally, alopecia areata is reversible and within a few months to a year, the hair grows back. There are a minority of cases however, where the hair loss is permanent. A person suffering from this condition should undergo hair treatment. There are several options available today. It is possible that multiple treatments will be required.

Facts about Alopecia Areata

  • This condition comes under the category of skin diseases and can affect all the tissues which have hair growth.
  • The main feature of alopecia areata is hair loss without scarring. This condition usually comes on its own and is not connected to any other associated medical problems.
  • It is not uncommon for the bald areas to restore hair growth without any intervention.
  • Alopecia areata is rarely observed before the person reaches three years of age.
  • It has been observed that there is some connection between alopecia areata and genes – the tendency to develop this condition seems to be passed down in families.

Causes of Alopecia Areata

  • The main cause of alopecia areata seems to be abnormalities of the immune system. In this particular case, the immune system gets misguided and attacks its own body. The immune system attacks the body tissues and the hair follicles.
  • The attack on hair follicles disturbs hair growth and the result is that this hair stops growing, and the existing hair starts to fall out.
  • Biopsies conducted on the tissues of the scalp show that lymphocytes penetrated into the hair bulb of the follicles of the hair.
  • Even though alopecia areata associates itself with other adverse health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, ulcerative colitis, vitiligo and thyroid disease, treatment of these conditions will not affect the course of alopecia areata.

Different Types of Alopecia Areata

  • Alopecia areata is the usual pattern of this condition with clearly defined spots of hair loss on the scalp.
  • Another variety is a general thinning of the hair which is called “diffuse” alopecia areata which occurs all over the scalp.
  • “Alopecia Totalis” is a situation where the complete hair of the scalp is lost.
  • “Alopecia Universalis” is a condition where the entire body loses hair. This is an extremely rare form of alopecia.

Conclusion

With a better understanding of what alopecia areata is and how it is caused, we are well equipped in how to best handle this problem. The important thing is to detect this condition at an early stage, so that we can administer the most appropriate treatment. Taking such action should help in minimizing the effects of this condition and hopefully restore the hair to its original state.