Alopecia is a medical term that denotes loss of hair (especially on the head) or loss of wool or feathers, which can happen either naturally or be caused by disease. Alopecia areata is a type of Alopecia that causes hair to fall out in small, random patches. The hair loss usually affects the scalp, though it can also occur in other parts of the body.
Alopecia areata is considered to be an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system that is supposed to protect the against disease, mistakenly attacks some part of the body. In the case of Alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, thereby resulting in hair loss.
People with family history of autoimmune diseases are more prone to it. You are more prone to develop Alopecia areata if someone else in your family had experienced it before.
The main cause of Alopecia areata hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it is not limited to any age range. Both the old and young can develop Alopecia areata, but is more common among the younger ones.
The major symptom of Alopecia areata is hair loss, especially in the scalp. It could start with clumps of hair falling out, or noticeable thinning of hair, resulting in bald spots on the scalp. In rare cases, it may result in complete loss of scalp hair and body hair.
Another symptom is pitted fingernails and toenails i.e the fingernails and toenails look as if a pin had made many tiny dents in them. They may also look like sandpaper.
If constant hair loss is noticed, it is advisable that you see your doctor. Diagnosis may be through
— medical history and hair analysis or
— blood tests.
Alopecia areata currently has no cure, though it can treated. Treatment may help prevent future hair loss or help to re-grow hair , this however, is not a guarantee for avoiding future hair loss.
Reaction to treatment varies from person to person. Some people might not notice significant difference despite treatment while others may.
Coping with Alopecia areata isn’t easy, but some of the coping mechanism that can be adopted are :
— using sunscreen for the scalp, face and exposed skin.
— wearing eyeglasses to protect the eyes.
— joining support groups and going for counseling.
— wearing wigs, scarves, caps or hats to protect the scalp from the sun.
Do you know anyone diagnosed with Alopecia areata, or do you have questions? Then share your thoughts and questions with me in the comments section below .👇