What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is a type of autoimmune disorder and the hair loss, in this case, happens in patches. In the beginning, the patches are not usually visible but as time passes, the patches will join with each other and become considerably bigger patches. This type of hair loss occurs when your hair follicles are attacked by the immune system of your body.
The hair loss does not only occur on the scalp but can also occur on other parts of your body like your eyelashes, eyebrows or even on your face.
What are the symptoms?
- The major and most distinguishable symptom of this disorder is the patchy hair loss. The patches are usually coin-sized and can, later on, grow in size.
- In 30% of the cases, the patients who are suffering from this problem face a continuous cycle of hair fall and regrowth.
- Some other initial signs of developing this condition are evident in your toenails and fingernails. There might be an appearance of white lines or dots. Some people also develop rough nails which lose their shine. Your nails might even split.
- White hairs are also seen which appear in the areas of hair loss.
- Cadaver hairs are another symptom of alopecia areata.
- Within a year, people usually develop alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.
What are the causes?
- The white blood cells that are present in your will start attacking the hair follicles which stunts hair growth and leads to hair loss in patches.
- The exact cause of why this happens is yet to be identified but reports have shown that people who already have someone in their family with this condition are more likely to develop it.
- It is also believed by some people that one of the major factors causing this problem is stress. When a person is faced with extreme stress, the white blood cells are triggered to attack the hair follicles.
What are the treatment options?
Currently, there is no specific treatment procedure developed for stopping alopecia areata but doctors can prescribe medications that can help in faster regrowth of hair. Use of corticosteroids is also sometimes advised in order to suppress the activity of the immune system. But the formation of new patches cannot be stopped by these measures.
Alopecia areata is not a contagious problem and neither does it affect your health in any manner. But the difficulty lies in adapting to the emotional stress associated with balding.