Alopecia Areata – What You Need to Know
By leaps and bounds, pattern baldness – androgenetic alopecia – is the most common cause of hair loss in men and women. But it is far from the only reason your hair may be thinning or falling out. Other genetic, biological, or environmental factors can directly contribute to hair loss, and understanding the underlying cause behind your specific condition is the key to developing an effective hair restoration strategy. One such cause for increased shedding or bald spots may be an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata.
What is Alopecia Areata?
This hair loss condition is caused by a direct attack on hair follicles by your own immune system and white blood cells. This assault causes the follicles to shrink and subsequently slow down hair production. In turn, this leads to sudden hair loss in quarter-sized patches which can progress across the scalp rapidly and unpredictably.
More extreme versions of the condition include alopecia totalis (Complete loss of hair on the scalp) and alopecia universalis (total loss of hair on the scalp and body). Hair follicles are not destroyed by alopecia areata and can typically regrow as soon as the inflammation dwindles.
Though not as common as androgenetic alopecia, which is the culprit in the vast majority of male pattern baldness cases, alopecia areata still affects two percent of Americans or roughly 6.8 million people. Unlike hereditary hair loss which generally manifests later in life, alopecia areata typically occurs before the age of 30 and can sometimes be seen in children as young as two years old.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the specific reason why the body’s immune system would suddenly turn on hair follicles, but there does appear to be a clear genetic connection. Studies have found that alopecia areata is far more common (1 out of 5) in people who have a close family member with the condition.
No cure currently exists for alopecia areata. However, if you have been diagnosed with the condition, there is hope and help available.
The first piece of good news is that alopecia areata does not destroy hair follicles and they typically regrow as soon as the inflammation dwindles. Once hair regrows, it may be permanent or the condition may flare up again, causing another round of hair loss.
Additionally, there are several ways to treat the condition and mitigate the hair loss it causes. Corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory medications, are often prescribed, as are other drugs including Minoxidil and those used to treat autoimmune disorders.
The Miami Hair & Skin Institute Can Help You With Alopecia Areata-Related Hair Loss
For those dealing with a challenging medical condition like an autoimmune disease, hair loss can make an already stressful situation even more challenging. At the Miami Hair & Skin Institute, we help those suffering from autoimmune disease-related hair loss, including alopecia areata, develop a hair restoration program that works in conjunction with treatment for the underlying autoimmune condition causing that loss.
Schedule a hair loss evaluation today to learn more about our effective treatments by contacting our clinic at 305-925-0222.