Alopecia areata is a medical condition that generally results in patchy hair loss or bald spots on the scalp. The cause for alopecia areata is currently unknown however, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder which causes the body's immune system to attack its own cells responsible for producing hair. In this article, we will discuss in detail the causes, symptoms and treatment of alopecia areata or spot baldness.
Causes: The specific cause for alopecia areata is unknown, however it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack its own follicles. A biopsy of the affected skin may show immune lymphocytes (white cells) in the hair bulb of the hair follicles. Alopecia areata has been associated with other underlying medical conditions such as thyroid disorders, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Therefore, it is important to rule out any underlying medical causes first.
Symptoms: The most obvious and common symptom of alopecia areata is one or more spots of baldness on the scalp, each spot about the size of a quarter. In rare cases larger areas of the scalp will have thinning otherwise known as diffuse alopecia areata. In extreme cases, all of the hair follicles on the head will thin and bald as a result of the condition called alopecia totalis.
Treatment: Unfortunately, there is no cure for alopecia areata and current treatments, while somewhat effective, offer limited success. The current treatments for alopecia areata include; steroid injections, topical corticosteroids, topical immunotherapy, Rogaine (minoxidil) and ultra violet therapy. In most cases, even without treatment the hair follicles regrow on their own. In rare instances, the hair loss may be permanent. Hair transplant surgery may be an option to restore hair to the bald area. However, there's no guarantee that new bald patches will appear in the transplanted area sometime later down the road.
Conclusion: The onset of alopecia areata can be stressful and damaging psychologically. However, in most cases the condition is temporary and hair follicles return to normal after a period of time. Depending on the severity of the condition, hair loss concealers like Toppik and Dermmatch may help disguise the bald spots.
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