Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease that often leads to unpredictable hair loss. In most cases, the hair falls out in small patches the size of a coin. For most people, hair loss is limited to a few spots, but in some cases it can be more extreme. Sometimes there can be total hair loss on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in extreme cases, on the whole body (alopecia completa). This condition can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, although most cases occur before the age of 30
Alopecia areata in a nutshell
Here are some important points about alopecia areata.
– One in five people with alopecia areata also has a family member who has experienced the disease.
– Alopecia areata often develops suddenly within a few days.
– There is little scientific evidence that alopecia areata is caused by stress.
– People with alopecia areata who have only a few patches of hair loss often recover spontaneously and completely without the need for treatment. Alopecia areata cannot be cured.
Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease that often leads to unpredictable hair loss. There is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that may be suggested by doctors to help hair grow back faster.
The most common form of treatment for alopecia areata is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These drugs are most often administered by local injection, topical application of an ointment, or orally. Other medications may be prescribed to promote hair growth or to target the immune system. Although some of these medications can encourage hair regrowth, they cannot prevent new spots from forming.
The use of photochemotherapy is supported by some studies and represents a possible alternative for patients who cannot or do not want to use systemic or invasive therapies. In addition to its aesthetic appearance, the hair provides some protection from the elements. People with alopecia areata who miss the hair’s protective properties may want to wear sunscreen when exposed to the sun.
Wear wrap-around glasses to protect your eyes from the sun and dirt that eyebrows and eyelashes normally protect against.
Use headgear such as hats, wigs, and scarves to protect your head from the sun or to keep it warm.
Alopecia areata does not directly cause disease and is not contagious. However, it can be difficult to adjust to emotionally. For many people, alopecia areata is a traumatic condition that warrants treatment that addresses both the emotional aspect of hair loss and the hair loss itself.
Alopecia areata has been compared by some to vitiligo, an autoimmune skin disease in which the body attacks melanin-producing cells, leading to the appearance of white patches. Research suggests that these two diseases may have similar pathogenesis, with similar types of immune cells and cytokines causing the diseases and shared genetic risk factors. Therefore, any new development in the treatment or prevention of one or other of these diseases could have implications for the other.
Preliminary animal studies have shown that quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, can protect against the development of alopecia areata and effectively treat existing hair loss. More research is needed, including human clinical trials, before quercetin can be considered as a treatment for alopecia areata.
The disease occurs when white blood cells attack hair follicle cells, causing them to shrink and dramatically slowing hair production. It is not known exactly what causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles in this way. Although scientists don’t know exactly why these changes occur, it appears that genetics play a role, as alopecia areata is more likely to occur in someone who has a close family member with the condition. One in five sufferers has a family member who has also developed alopecia areata.
Other research has shown that many people with a family history of alopecia areata also have a personal or family history of other autoimmune disorders, such as: B. Atopy, a disease characterized by a tendency to hyperallergy, thyroiditis and vitiligo.
Despite what many people think, there is very little scientific evidence that alopecia areata is caused by stress. Extreme levels of stress could potentially trigger this condition, but the latest research suggests a genetic cause.
Because conventional treatments for alopecia are extremely limited, there are even fewer studies supporting natural treatments for alopecia. Some people recommend applying onion or garlic juice, chilled green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, honey, or coconut milk to the scalp. While none of these products are likely to be harmful, their effectiveness is not supported by research either.
Some people turn to alternative treatments such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, although there is little to no evidence to support these treatments.
The most noticeable symptom of alopecia areata is patchy hair loss. Coin-sized sections of hair begin to fall out, mostly on the scalp. However, any area of hair growth can be affected, including the beard and eyelashes.
Hair loss can come on suddenly and develop in just a few days or over a period of weeks. Itching or burning may occur in the area prior to hair loss. The hair follicles are not destroyed and the hair can therefore grow back when the inflammation of the follicles disappears. People with only a few patches of hair loss often recover spontaneously and completely without any treatment. About 30% of people who develop alopecia areata see their condition worsen or turn into an ongoing cycle of hair loss and hair growth.
About half of patients recover from alopecia areata within a year, but many experience more than one episode. About 10% of people then develop alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.
Alopecia areata can also affect the fingernails and toenails, and these changes are sometimes the first sign that the disease is progressing. A number of small changes can occur on the nails:
– Alopecia affects both men and women.
– punctual bumps occur
– Spots and white lines appear
– the nails become rough
– the nails lose their shine
– the nails become thin and splinter
The other clinical signs are as follows:
Exclamation mark hair: This occurs when a few short hairs taper at their base and grow into or around the edges of the bald spots.
Hairs that break off before they reach the surface of the skin.
White hair: It can grow in areas affected by hair loss.
Doctors can usually diagnose alopecia areata fairly easily based on the symptoms. They can also examine the degree of hair loss and examine hair from affected areas under a microscope. If the doctor cannot make a diagnosis after an initial clinical examination, he can perform a skin biopsy. If he needs to rule out other autoimmune diseases, he can do a blood test. Since the symptoms of alopecia areata are very characteristic, the diagnosis is usually quick and easy.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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Alopecia hair loss