Hair Loss in Patches (Alopecia Areata): Causes & Treatment
Have you ever thought how dreadful it would be to wake up one fine morning and notice bald patches on your scalp? Some of you may have even experienced it!! If you have got such patches on your scalp, it means that you are suffering from alopecia areata. This is a scalp disease characterized by sudden appearance of bald patches on the scalp. As you know, there are different ways of hair loss and most people suffer from hair loss at least once in their life time. But if the hair loss you experience is in bald patches. It means that the problem is caused due to Alopecia Areata. But most of the people fail to identify this disease even when they lose hair in patches.
What is Alopecia Areata? How is it caused?
Alopecia areata is a kind of balding that happens when your immune system erroneously assaults hair follicles, which are a piece of the skin from which hairs development starts. The harm to the follicle is typically not perpetual. Much of the time, hair drops out in little, round patches about the extent of a quarter. Numerous individuals with the malady get just a couple exposed patches. Specialists don’t know why the immune system assaults the follicles.
If you do not know much about this disease, read on and you will know the facts, causes and symptoms of this disease and the remedies that you can follow to treat it.
Important Facts about hair loss in patches:
- Alopecia affects about 2% of the population is seen both males and females. It can occur at any age, but it is found to be more common during the childhood times.
- You may suffer from single as well as multiple patches of hair loss on the scalp. Each patch is well demarcated and visible. It is normally seen on the scalp, but in rare cases it may also be seen on the eyebrows, eyelashes or any other area of the body where there is a growth of hair.
- In rare cases this condition is called Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis.
- People suffering from such problems experience major hair shedding within a very short period of time.
- Patchy hair loss is also seen in people suffering from various diseases.
What Causes Hair Loss in Patches?
- Alopecia Areata is a skin disorder and it leads to loss of hair. In this case the hair loss is usually in patches and it is seen often on the scalp. This condition takes place when the immune system of the body attacks the hair follicles by mistake. As a result, hair starts falling out from the scalp. This is known as autoimmune disease, which means that it is not under your control.
- The white blood cells attack the cells of the hair follicles and as a result, they start shrinking and the hair production becomes slow. Eventually hair starts falling in patches, causing the disease alopecia areata.
- Genetic reasons are also the cause of alopecia. However, not much research has been done in this area and it is not known what triggers hair loss in patches. If a close family member of a person has alopecia, he/she is at a higher risk of getting this disease. One out of 5 people with this disease has a family member suffering from alopecia areata.
- Another research says that a family with alopecia areata also has a family history of other autoimmune disorders like atopy, Down syndrome etc.
- Stress is also said to be a reason for developing this disease, but there is very little scientific evidence supporting this theory. People under extreme stress may develop alopecia areata, but according to the most recent studies, genetic cause is the main reason for this disease.
Alopecia Areata Symptoms:
- The most noticeable and prominent symptom of this disease is the falling of hair in patches. Usually coin sized patches of hair fall out, particularly from the scalp. These appear all over the scalp. The loss of hair may be sudden, with the hair falling in few days.
- A redness of the scalp is also formed, which is not very noticeable as there is a slight change in color.
- Some experience a burning sensation on the affected areas.
- The scalp becomes itchy and irritable.
- Scaling is also noticed, but it is very mild.
Alopecia also affects your finger nails and toe nails and sometimes these are the first indications of alopecia areata. Some of the minor changes that can occur to your nails are:
- Appearance of pinpoint dents
- White spots and lines on the nails.
- Roughness of the nails.
- Thin nails that split easily.
- Nails start to lose their shine.
Treatments for Hair Loss in Patches:
Some steroid injections given directly on the bald patches can help in reducing the effects of immune system that attack the affected area. As a result, more time is gained for the recovery. This enables the hair follicles to recover and start functioning in a normal way. Hence your hair starts growing normally. This is one of the best treatments for this disease when you have one or two patches. However, there is no 100% guarantee that the hair follicles will recover completely. You must approach a skin specialist for this treatment as they do this perfectly. The injections are given at time intervals of 4 to 6 weeks, and after about 2 or three months the hair starts to grow again.
Topical steroid cure:
This is a treatment in which creams and gels containing steroid are used. You get a number of such creams and gels in the market. This is usually used for hair patches found in women. It is not as effective as injections, but it helps in improving the situation to a great extent. Experts say that if you do not get any positive results even after 6 months of using these creams and gels, then you may discontinue it and look for other methods of treatments.
So, follow the guidelines properly and treat your scalp in time to get relief from this disease and make your hair grow normally. In some people there is a continuous cycle of hair loss in patches and re-growth of the hair.