What is Alopecia Areata?
08 / 23 / 16

What is Alopecia Areata?

There are many potential causes of hair loss. Some are simple matters of lifestyle—an insufficiency of Vitamin D or just general malnutrition, for instance. Some are external medical factors—chemotherapy, radiation, or the use of powerful narcotics. And still other causes of hair loss are actual disorders of the body. One of the most common is alopecia areata. Maybe you’ve heard the term before—but what is this condition, and how does it contribute to hair loss?

Defining Alopecia Areata

Fundamentally, it’s a disease of the immune system. When you have alopecia areata, your immune system is tricked into attacking hair follicles—the very place where hair growth begins. Scientists have not determined why this happens, but the result is unmistakable: By attacking the place where hair growth is generated, alopecia areata completely throws off your body’s normal, natural cycle of hair growth.

Note that this condition is especially common among those younger than 20, but anyone may be affected by it, and that includes both women and men.

Diagnosis Alopecia Areata

Typically, alopecia areata causes patches of hair to fall out in clumps—resulting in smooth, circular, hairless patches all over the scalp. In more rare cases, hair may thin without these totally hairless patches appearing. In other instances, hair may break off, leaving short stubs behind. This condition can advance to alopecia universalis, which is the complete loss of all hair on the scalp, brows and body.

Alopecia areata can also cause intermittent hair loss; you may lose hair in one area only to have it grow back in a few months, but then you may lose hair on other parts of the scalp or the body. Typically, new hair does eventually grow back in the area where it was lost, and it is usually the same color as before. Occasionally, the new hair is fine and white. Meanwhile, about one in 10 people with alopecia areata will never regrow their hair.

Treating Alopecia Areata

There is no cure for this condition, but there are ways to treat it and to manage the symptoms. Note that those who experience one case of hair loss due to alopecia areata will very likely experience more, so it’s worthwhile to pursue treatments sooner rather than later.

There are different ways to treat this condition, and a good starting place is to receive a free trichological evaluation including a microscopic camera examination of your scalp and hair follicles. From there, you may have the option for various topical treatments, including corticosteroids and other medications which would require referral to your medical provider. Additionally, you can accommodate for hair loss with the use of custom prostheses, hair systems and other products. We offer all of these at LH Hair, and are happy to help you determine the course of treatment that’s best for you.

Alopecia areata may be something you deal with your whole life, but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender to hair loss. There are always options available, and any case of hair loss can be treated effectively. Visit LH Hair today to explore the options.