Are you struggling with unexpected and seemingly random patches of hair loss? You, like many others, might be experiencing alopecia areata. If you want to know more about the cause, symptoms, and your treatment options, you’ve come to the right place.
Most cases of alopecia areata are mild and resolve without treatment. For example, someone might notice a small hairless patch, about the size of a coin, that wasn’t there before. It could be on their beard or the back of their head. It could gradually return to normal after about a year.
The trouble is, this health condition is unpredictable and affects each person differently. You may have one small patch that comes and goes. She could have multiple patches. He could have one bald patch that spreads. You could lose hair slowly over a few weeks, or suddenly in a few days. Sometimes it’s permanent, sometimes it’s not.
The common symptom is spontaneous patches of hair loss. Alopecia totalis is when the extent of hair loss is over your entire scalp. Alopecia universalis means you experience hair loss over your entire body.
Alopecia areata refers to hair loss that’s restricted to a few localised areas. Harvard Health defines it as follows, “Alopecia areata is a skin disorder that causes hair loss, usually in patches, most often on the scalp. Usually, the bald patches appear suddenly and affect only a limited area. The hair grows back within 12 months or less.”
Examples of Alopecia Areata.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
An autoimmune condition is when your immune system turns on itself. In this case, your white blood cells attack your hair follicles resulting in hair loss. Alopecia can affect any hair growth region on the body but occurs mostly on the scalp.
Autoimmune disease is a genetic characteristic. So, you might be prone to alopecia if someone in your family has an autoimmune disease. But having a parent with alopecia areata doesn’t mean you will have it and your child won’t necessarily inherit it from you.
Maybe you’re wondering why your white blood cells would start attacking normal, healthy hair follicle cells. Sadly, doctors don’t know why it happens, they can only explain what happens once it’s started. If you already have an autoimmune condition, there is a chance that you could get alopecia areata as well.
Here are a few examples of medical conditions that might make it more likely for you to get alopecia areata:
- Pernicious anaemia
- Thyroid disease
Support for Sufferers
Alopecia is not contagious, and it doesn’t make you sick. But there’s no reason to minimise the effect this condition can have on your state of wellbeing. You have every reason to pursue treatment. Our hair is important, and for many of us, it serves to define us. So get help from your doctor, see a hair specialist or join a support group.
Medical News Today points out that, “For many people, alopecia areata is a traumatic disease that warrants treatment addressing the emotional aspect of hair loss, as well as the hair loss itself.”
You are not alone in this – far more people experience this condition than you’d think. Many people conceal their baldness or feel unwilling to talk about it. However, speaking up is the first step to helping yourself and others.
If you have questions about alopecia areata, please feel free to contact the Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic. Our team has a great deal of experience in treating all forms of hair loss and we can help you.