Alopecia areata is a hair-loss condition which usually affects the scalp. Alopecia areata causes one or more patches of hair loss. There are safe, effective medications available to treat male and female pattern hair loss. Read more...
Alopecia areata, commonly known as hair loss is an autoimmune disease characterised by non-scarring hair loss in single or multiple areas of the scalp, face or body. It is quite a common condition and about one person in 50 will experience an episode of alopecia areata. The scalp is most commonly affected. There are no symptoms associated with the hair loss and the scalp skin looks normal. New hair eventually grows back but it can take many months. Very rarely, alopecia areata can become much more extensive. In alopecia totalis there is complete loss of all scalp hair, whilst in alopecia universalis, there is complete loss of hair everywhere (eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, underarm and pubic hair). Fortunately, most people affected with alopecia areata experience only small patches of temporary hair loss. The condition is not life-threatening and does not cause pain but the cosmetic effects can be significant and there are often repeated episodes.
Causes Of Hair Loss
Doctors don't know why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others. However, several factors may influence hair loss:
- Hormones, such as abnormal levels of androgens (male hormones normally produced by both men and women)
- Genes, from both male and female parents, may influence a person's predisposition to male or female pattern baldness.
- Stress, illness, and childbirth can cause temporary hair loss. Ringworm caused by a fungal infection can also cause hair loss.
- Drugs, including chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, blood thinners, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and birth control pills, can cause temporary hair loss.
- Burns, injuries, and X-rays can cause temporary hair loss. In such cases, normal hair growth usually returns once the injury heals unless a scar is produced. Then, the hair will never regrow.
- Autoimmune disease may cause alopecia areata. In alopecia areata, the immune system revs up for unknown reasons and affects the hair follicles. In most people with alopecia areata, the hair grows back, although it may temporarily be very fine and possibly a lighter color before normal coloration and thickness return.
- Cosmetic procedures, such as shampooing too often, perms, bleaching, and dyeing hair can contribute to overall hair thinning by making hair weak and brittle. Tight braiding, using rollers or hot curlers, and running hair pick through tight curls can also damage and break hair. However, these procedures don't cause baldness. In most instances, hair grows back normally if the source of the problem is removed. Still, severe damage to the hair or scalp sometimes causes permanent bald patches.
- Medical conditions. Thyroid disease, lupus, diabetes, anemia, eating disorders, and anemia can cause hair loss. Most times, when the underlying condition is treated, the hair will return unless there is scarring as in some forms of lupus, lichen planus or follicular disorders.
- Diet. A low-protein diet or severely calorie-restricted diet can also cause temporary hair loss.
Signs Of Hair Loss
- Gradual thinning on top of the head: This is the most common type of hair loss, affecting both men and women as they age. In men, hair often begins to recede from the forehead in a line that resembles the letter M. Women typically retain the hairline on the forehead but have a broadening of the part in their hair.
- Circular or patchy bald spots: Some people experience smooth, coin-sized bald spots. This type of hair loss usually affects just the scalp, but it sometimes also occurs in beards or eyebrows. In some cases, your skin may become itchy or painful before the hair falls out.
- Sudden loosening of hair: A physical or emotional shock can cause hair to loosen. Handfuls of hair may come out when combing or washing your hair or even after gentle tugging. This type of hair loss usually causes overall hair thinning and not bald patches.
- Full-body hair loss: Some conditions and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer, can result in the loss of hair all over your body. The hair usually grows back.
- Patches of scaling that spread over the scalp: This is a sign of ringworm. It may be accompanied by broken hair, redness, swelling and, at times, oozing.
Prevention Of Hair Loss
- Get The Right Diagnosis
- Use The Right Comb
- Towel Dry The Right Way
- Choose Your Products Wisely
- Wash Your Hair Thrice A Week
- Style It Right
- Natural Treatments
- Keep Your Scalp Healthy
- Yoga And Exercise
- Take Supplements
- Homemade Treatments
- Salon Treatments
- Anti-Hair Fall Products
- Minoxidil (Rogaine), which is available without a prescription. It is sprayed on and/or rubbed into the scalp twice a day.
- Finasteride (Propecia), which is a prescription medicine. It is taken once a day in pill form.
- Medicines used to treat alopecia areata, which is caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles, include.
- Corticosteroids injected into the scalp. The corticosteroid is injected many times about 1 cm (0.4 in.) apart every 4 to 6 weeks. This is the most common treatment in adults and is best used for treating patchy hair loss.
- Corticosteroid ointments or creams you put on the scalp. Corticosteroids may be used along with injected steroids or with other medicines such as minoxidil (Rogaine).
- Corticosteroids you take by mouth (oral). Although this does result in hair growth, it is rarely used because of the side effects of oral corticosteroids.
- Contact immunotherapy, which triggers an allergic reaction on the scalp that may help hair to grow.
Myth- Only Men Are Affected By Balding
Fact- Experiencing hair loss doesn’t indicate that there is something wrong with one of your ‘X’ chromosomes. It is actually pretty common for women to experience hair fall. In fact, 40% of women are affected by hair loss at some point in their lives.
Myth- Washing Your Hair Too Often Is The Problem
Fact- The next time someone gives you this little piece of unwanted advice, please feel free to laugh at them. Granted, washing your hair more than thrice a week is a bit excessive, but it does not cause hair loss.
Myth- Shaving Your Head Will Fix The Problem
Fact- if you’re expecting your hair to be thicker when it grows, you will be disappointed.
While the little things do matter, hair fall is often the result of a bigger problem. To understand why you are losing hair, you need to first understand how hair growth works. I’m not going to give you a biology lesson, but here’s a little bit of information that can help you understand the problem better.