What is Alopecia?
Alopecia is a type of a skin condition that causes hair loss. This condition occurs when body’s immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles (hair follicles is part of the skin where hair begin to grow). Despite the numerous medical researches on the above condition, medical experts have not come up with a conclusive explanation of the exact cause of the immune attacks of the follicles. Indeed, it has been known that the above condition is very common among young people under the age of 20, but also adults of any age may be affected. Men and women are equally affected. However, the good news is that the damage to the follicle is not always permanent.
Signs and symptoms of Alopecia
Doctors, dermatologists, and other medical experts explain that the main sign and symptom of alopecia is hair loss. Typically, hair falls out in small round patches on the head/scalp. In most cases, these patches are several centimeters or even less that. Besides hair loss on the scalp, hair loss on other parts of the body can be another sign of Alopecia. Probably, it is noticeable as a clump of hair on the pillow or in the shower.
Nevertheless, other types of diseases can cause hair to fall off the scalp or the body. Therefore, hair loss alone should be used necessarily as the only sign to diagnose Alopecia. Indeed, hair loss associated with the above condition is random and unpredictable. In most cases, hair may grow back at any time, and then fall out in an irregular manner. As such, the extent of hair loss, as well as regrowth, varies significantly from person to person.
Causes of Alopecia
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease. As it is medically explained, an autoimmune disease is a condition that develops when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells for foreign substances. Normally, the immune system protects the body against harmful foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. Therefore, in the cases of Alopecia, the immune system attacks the skin’s hair follicles. In this case, the follicles become smaller and eventually, stop the development of hair, hence, hair loss. Also mentioned in the previously, what triggers the body’s immune system to attack the follicles remain unknown. However, the above condition is more prone to people whose family history had other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.
Diagnosis of Alopecia
Upon realizing hair loss in your body and scalp, it is highly advisable that you need to contact a Dermatologist as soon as possible. The Dermatologist will review your symptoms to determine if you are suffering from the above condition. In most cases, the doctor diagnoses Alopecia by simply looking at the extent of hair loss as well as examining few sample of hair under a microscope. To rule out other conditions that cause hair loss, the dermatologist performs a procedure called scalp biopsy.
After diagnosis, the dermatologist will prescribe the next course of action, probably treatment of the condition. Indeed, it has to be noted that there is no known cure of Alopecia, but the condition can be treated. As medical experts explain, treatment may be able to stop the future occurrence of hair loss as well as helping the lost hair to grow back more quickly.
Treatment of the above condition includes rubbing certain medications (Minoxidil or Rogaine is often administered) into the scalp to help excite hair grow. The following are other common therapies used to treat the above condition:
• Steroid injections
• Corticosteroid lotions and creams
The alopecia condition can be emotionally challenging if hair loss affects the whole scalp. Indeed, such people may feel depressed and isolated. However, if you are undergoing such a situation, then you are highly advised to visit a dermatologist for immediate treatment. Our colleague, a local Newport Beach dermatologist says if the conditions make you feel overwhelmed, then it is a wise idea that you need to visit a medical counselor immediately who may help you cope with the effects of the above condition.
Visit our friend’s blog for more information about alopecia, how to treat it and what to look for in a provider.