Alopecia areata is a typical autoimmune condition that frequently causes erratic hair loss.
6.8 million Americans and 147 million individuals globally are impacted by it.
The majority of the time, hair thinning occurs in little patches about the size of a quarter. Alopecia areata may just cause a few patches, but it can also affect larger regions of the scalp.
Alopecia totalis is the name given by doctors when there is a total loss of hair on the scalp. Alopecia Universalis is the name for the disorder when there is hair loss on the entire body.
No matter your age, gender, or color, alopecia can affect you; nevertheless, the majority of instances start before the age of 30.
In this post, we’ll examine the causes, signs, diagnoses, and various therapies for alopecia areata.
Although there is presently no cure for alopecia areata, doctors might recommend several forms of treatment to hasten the growth of new hair.
The most popular method of treating alopecia areata is with corticosteroids, potent anti-inflammatory medications that can weaken the immune system. These are typically given orally, topically with ointments, or locally via injections.
Minoxidil, Anthralin, SADBE, and DPCP are additional drugs that can be taken and can either stimulate hair growth or have an immune system-altering effect. While some of these may aid in hair regrowth, they cannot stop the development of new bald patches.
A potential alternative for those unable or unwilling to employ systemic or invasive medicines, Trusted Source is supported by several research.
Hair offers some weather protection in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. Those who lack the protective benefits of hair due to alopecia areata may want to:
- When exposed to the sun, use sunscreen.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun and foreign objects that your eyelashes and eyebrows would typically shield you from.
- To keep your head warm or shield it from the sun, wear hats, wigs, and scarves.
- Apply ointment into the nose to maintain mucous membrane moisture and to guard against microorganisms that are typically caught in the nostril hair.
People do not actually get sick with alopecia areata, nor is it contagious. However, it could be challenging to emotionally adjust to. Alopecia areata is a distressing illness for many people, necessitating treatment that addresses both the physical and emotional effects of hair loss.
People can explore typical psychological responses to the disease and share their ideas and experiences in support groups and counseling.
Alopecia areata and vitiligo, an autoimmune skin condition in which the body assaults cells that produce melanin and causes white patches, have been likened by some. According to research, these two diseases may have a similar pathophysiology, with similar immune cell and cytokine types acting as the diseases’ drivers and shared genetic risk factors.
Therefore, any advancements in the diagnosis, management, or prevention of either condition may have an impact on the other Trusted Source.
Diphencyprone (DCP), a contact sensitizer, has been used to treat alopecia areata in a few cases where it has resulted in the development of vitiligo.
Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavonoid included in fruits and vegetables, has shown promise in preliminary animal studies for both preventing the onset of alopecia areata and treating it when it already exists.
More study is required before quercetinTrusted Source can be used as a therapy for alopecia areata.
White blood cells attack the cells in hair follicles, causing them to contract and noticeably reduce the rate of hair growth. What specifically triggers the body’s immune system to assault hair follicles in this manner is unknown.
Although it is unknown why these changes take place, it appears that genetics may be at play because alopecia areata is more likely to affect a person who has a close relative who also has the condition. One in five individuals who have the condition has a family member who also has alopecia areata.
According to other studies, many individuals with a family history of alopecia areata also have a personal or family history of other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroiditis, vitiligo, and atopy, which is defined by a propensity to be hyperallergic.
Contrary to popular belief, there is virtually little scientific proof that stress contributes to alopecia areata. Extreme stress may be able to set off the illness, but most current research points to a hereditary basis.
Research on Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Alopecia areata was once thought to affect all races equally, however more recent research suggests that this may not be the case.
For instance, some research suggests that, compared to white women, women of African American and Hispanic descent had a higher lifetime prevalence of the illness. Additionally, compared to white individuals, Asian people are at a lesser risk.
A 2019 study that examined over 11,000 cases in the National Alopecia Areata Registry between 2000 and 2016 found that persons of color had higher probabilities than white people of receiving an alopecia areata diagnosis.
- For African Americans, 1.77
- 1.27 for people of other racial groups, such as Native Americans and Pacific Islanders
- 1 for people of color.
- 9 in favor of Hispanics.
- Four for Asians
According to a cross-sectional analysis conducted in 2018 on over 1,100 women who reported receiving an alopecia areata diagnosis, Black women had odds of 2.72 in the Nurses’ Health Study and 5.48 in the Nurses’ Health Study II, compared to 1.00 for white women.
According to the NHSII, the odds for Hispanic women were 1.94 times higher than for white women. Based on the NHS, there were no appreciable incidence disparities.
But very few research have looked at the patterns and causes of alopecia, and pathophysiological aspects have received little attention. It is necessary to conduct further study that accounts for socioeconomic, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors as well as access to healthcare.
A Home Remedy
Studies that support natural remedies for alopecia are more harder to come by because there are so few conventional treatments for the condition.
Some advise massaging the scalp with honey, coconut milk, cooled green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, or onion or garlic juice. Despite the fact that none of these are likely to be harmful, research does not back up their efficacy.
Even though there is little to no evidence to support these treatments, some people choose alternative therapies like acupuncture and aromatherapy.
Patchy hair loss is the main sign of alopecia areata. Small coin-sized hair flakes start to fall out, mostly from the scalp. But every place where hair grows might be impacted, even the beard and eyelashes.
A few days or a few weeks may pass before there is a noticeable loss of hair. Before hair loss, there may be burning or itching in the area. Because the hair follicles are not destroyed, if the inflammation in the follicles goes down, new hair can form. People who just lose a few patches of hair frequently spontaneously make a full recovery without receiving any kind of treatment.
Alopecia areata affects about 30% of those who have it; for these people, the condition either worsens or turns into an ongoing cycle of hair loss and regrowth.
Alopecia areata sufferers typically recover in about half the time it takes, but many will have multiple episodes. Alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis affects approximately 10% of people.
The fingernails and toenails can also be affected by alopecia areata, and in some cases, these changes are the first indication that the problem is progressing. The following minor modifications to nails may take place:
- White patches and lines form, the nails become rough, and the nails lose their sheen.
- Nails deteriorate and split
Additional clinical indications comprise:
- Exclamation mark hairs: These are a few brief hairs that sprout at or around the borders of bald spots and get narrower at the bottom.
- Hairs that fall out before reaching the skin’s surface are called cadaver hairs.
- White hair: This could appear in balding areas.
Alopecia areata is typically pretty simple for doctors to identify by looking at symptoms. They could examine hairs from the affected areas under a microscope and gauge the extent of hair loss.
A skin biopsy might be done if the doctor is unable to diagnose the patient following an initial clinical examination. A blood test may be used if they need to rule out other autoimmune illnesses.
Making a diagnosis of alopecia areata is typically rapid and simple because the symptoms are so striking.