Alopecia means hair loss. When a person has a medical condition called alopecia areata (ar-ee-AH-tah), the hair falls out in round patches. The hair can fall out on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.
Alopecia areata can cause different types of hair loss. Each of these types has a different name:
- Alopecia areata (hair loss in patches).
- Alopecia totalis (lose all hair on the scalp).
- Alopecia universalis (lose all hair on the body).
Not everyone loses all of the hair on the scalp or body. This happens to about 5 percent of people.
Hair often grows back but may fall out again. Sometimes the hair loss lasts for many years.
Alopecia is not contagious. It is not due to nerves. What happens is that the immune system attacks the hair follicles (structures that contain the roots of the hair), causing hair loss. This disease most often occurs in otherwise healthy people.
What causes alopecia areata?
Alopecia is a general term for hair loss. Alopecia areata is a common cause of non-scarring (does not cause scarring to the scalp) hair loss that can occur at any age. It usually causes small, coin-sized, round patches of baldness on the scalp, although hair elsewhere such as the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, body and limbs can be affected. In some people larger areas are affected and occasionally it can involve the whole scalp (alopecia totalis) or even the entire body and scalp (alopecia universalis).
Hair is lost because it is affected by inflammation. The cause of this inflammation is unknown but it is thought that the immune system, the natural defence which normally protects the body from infections and other diseases, may attack the growing hair. Why this might happen is not fully understood, nor is it known why only localised areas are affected and why the hair usually regrows again.
What causes alopecia areata?
Someone with alopecia areata is slightly more likely than a person without it to develop other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes, lupus and vitiligo (white patches on the skin), although the risk of getting these disorders is still very low.
Is alopecia areata hereditary?
There is a genetic predisposition to alopecia areata. About 20% of people with alopecia areata have a family history.
- British Skin Foundation
+ Patchy hair loss: The problem often begins with 1 or more coin-sized, round, smooth, bare patches where hair once was. You may first notice the problem when you see clumps of hair on your pillow or in the shower.
Hair loss occurs mostly on the scalp. But it can involve eyebrows, eyelashes, beards — any hair-bearing site. Patches vary in size.
+ “Exclamation mark” hairs: Often, a few short hairs occur in or at the edges of the bare spots. These hairs get narrower at the bottom, like an exclamation mark.
+ Widespread hair loss:With time, some patients go bald. Some lose all their body hair, too. This is not common. Also uncommon is a band of hair loss at the back of the scalp.
+ Nail problems: Alopecia areata also can affect your fingernails and toenails. Nails can have tiny pinpoint dents (pitting). They also can have white spots or lines, be rough, lose their shine, or become thin and split. Rarely nails change shape or fall off.
Sometimes nail changes are the first sign of alopecia areata.
+ Primary Care Provider
+ follicular stimulating hormone
+ Serum iron
Sometimes a dermatologist can diagnose alopecia areata by looking at the hair loss. If the patch of hair loss is expanding, the doctor may pull out a few hairs. These hairs will be looked at under a microscope. Sometimes the dermatologist will perform a skin biopsy to confirm that the disease is alopecia areata.
+ powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These are mostly commonly administered through local injections, topical ointment application, or orally
METHODS OF HEALING
Here are the 8 best foods you can eat to promote hair growth. Eggs. ... Berries. ... Spinach. ... Fatty Fish. ... Sweet Potatoes. ... Avocados. ... Nuts. ... Seeds.
I have tried several things to help prevent my hair loss.
2. Limit hair styles that pull. Using protective styles.
3. Managing my diet
5. Creating my own hygiene products to avoid toxins that are present in a majority of over the counter products.
6. Managing stress
7. Spending time with loved ones.
I have had a needle with steroids injected into my head. I promised myself that I would NEVER do that again. With a little love and patience rendered the same outcome. This was my experience. Everyone must do what works best for them.
Here are some great links and resources to help you as you navigate your Autoimmune Disease.
HAVE QUESTIONS OR NEED MORE SUPPORT?
ABOUT NYJA - Greetings! I am a single mother of a beautiful son (do not tell him I said that). I have served in the USAF for 20 years. I am an analyst and a database manger. I was diagnosed w/Alopecia Areata in 2002. More recently, I was diagnosed with Sjogrëns. Of all the amazing things that i've experienced, seeing individuals overcome obstacles brings me JOY. Thanks for allowing me to join your journey!
Their stories are brave, honest and intimately revealing of their diagnosis, their successes, their hardships and their lives. Sharing their stories allows them to put words to their journey while providing inspiration to others with an autoimmune disease.