What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss on the scalp and body. It’s characterized by patches of baldness, most commonly in a round shape, but can also appear triangular or even a horseshoe.
While it can affect anyone at any age and is not typically life-threatening, it can cause psychological distress and physical discomfort due to cold weather, sweating, and other factors. While there is no cure for alopecia areata, there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent further hair loss.
What causes alopecia areata?
While the exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown, it’s thought to be related to the immune system attacking its own cells – in this case, hair follicles – and causing them to die off or stop growing. This process begins with inflammation around the follicle that leads to skin inflammation around the affected area.
Then there’s an immune response (which causes more inflammation), followed by an autoimmune response (which causes even more inflammation). Eventually, your body will begin producing antibodies against its healthy cells (including hair follicles).
How is it diagnosed?
The condition is usually diagnosed by looking at your scalp and seeing where your hair has started to thin. If you’re worried about hair loss, talk to your doctor or dermatologist about getting tested for alopecia areata.
Types of alopecia areata
There are two types of alopecia areata: scarring and non-scarring. The latter is more common than the former – it can cause your hair to fall out, but it’ll grow back without leaving a bald spot on your head. The former type (scarring alopecia) can cause permanent hair loss if left untreated.
Top ways to stop alopecia areata from spreading
Alopecia areata is a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing them to stop growing. It can affect any body part, including the scalp and eyebrows. Hair loss is usually temporary, but it can be permanent if the condition is left untreated or if it’s not treated in time.
Suppose you’re experiencing hair loss from alopecia areata. In that case, you can take steps to stop it from spreading any further and potentially causing permanent damage to your scalp and hair follicles. Here are some top ways to treat this condition before things get worse.
Keep your hair clean
Make sure your hair is clean and healthy by using shampoo and conditioner daily. You should also avoid wearing hats or wigs until your hair grows back because they might trap dirt on your scalp that could cause infections.
However, it is advisable to wear a hat when you go outside, especially if you’re in an area with high UV radiation and low humidity.
Take multivitamin daily
Take a multivitamin with biotin every day. This will help prevent hair loss and keep your vitamin D level up, which can help fight symptoms of alopecia.
Say no to stress
Cut down on stress as much as possible (but don’t get too stressed about cutting down on stress). Stress is linked to many autoimmune conditions like alopecia, so it’s important to manage your stress levels to manage your condition. Also, try meditating or exercising more often – both can help lower stress levels and improve overall health.
Stress can make your alopecia worse, so try to reduce the amount of anxiety in your life by getting more sleep, exercising regularly, and spending time with friends and family members who make you feel happy.
Eat healthy diet
Take a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruit that contain antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E (which help promote healthy skin). Make sure your diet is rich in protein, vitamin A, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil).
Apply sunscreen on your scalp every day, even if it’s cloudy. Don’t forget this when you need to go out. Sunlight can cause further damage to your scalp. That’s why you should use a good quality sunscreen to avoid condition from worserning.
Alopecia areata treatments
Steroids help stop the immune system from attacking the hair follicles and causing more hair loss. They need to be taken for at least six months before you can tell if they’re working or not.
These drugs suppress your immune system’s response to the disease to stop attacking your hair follicles (where your hair grows). They also reduce inflammation around the follicles and help new hairs grow thicker than before.
This surgery moves healthy hair from another part of your body (such as your back) onto the balding area of your scalp. The transplanted hairs then grow into new locations over time.
These include minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). They can help prevent further hair loss but aren’t as effective as steroids in treating existing bald spots.
Some people have a lot of success with topical treatments that use corticosteroids or immunomodulators. These medications are applied directly onto the scalp; they’re also available in pill form if you’d rather not apply them daily.
Injections into scalp
Another option is injections into the scalp, containing an immune suppressant called cyclosporine A (CSA). This medication helps calm down the immune system, so it doesn’t attack healthy skin cells anymore, which helps keep more hair from falling out.
Alopecia areata, or patchy hair loss, is one of the most common autoimmune diseases. It’s not contagious, but it can cause significant distress in those with it.
The good news is several ways to stop alopecia areata from spreading. The most significant you can take is see your dermatologist and get diagnosed as soon as possible.
Once you know what’s happening to your hair, your doctor will be able to prescribe treatments that will help you keep your hair and reduce the symptoms of alopecia areata.