Hair And Scalp Diseases - Alopecia Areata

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

If you were to ask, an individual who suffers from Alopecia Areata what it is you may be surprised at their answer. Instead of giving you the medical terminology that goes with this condition, they will simply tell you that it is a discouraging and disheartening condition. It is a form of hair loss that those suffering from it find frustrating.

As far as the cause of it goes, it is believed to be a malfunction in the autoimmune system of the sufferer. It does just restrict itself to male or female as either can be affected with it. It most often comes on quickly and becomes noticeable rapidly. It seems to affect one side more than the other for reasons unknown. Alopecia areata is not to be mistaken as being male pattern baldness, which is hereditary. Something that is seen throughout the generations amongst the men of the family.

When an individual suffers from an autoimmune disorder is almost as if the body turns on itself and will attack various components of the body. This is what happens in the case of Alopecia Areata. The body simply attacks the hair as if it were a foreign entity. It centers its attack on the individual hair follicles.

When biopsies are taken and conducted on skin that is affected with Alopecia Areata it will show the immune cells within the hair follicle that should not be there. There are several autoimmune disorders such as thyroid disease or rheumatoid arthritis that are autoimmune diseases just to name a few. Sometimes the Alopecia Areata will co incide with this. There has been some evidence to indicate that this condition may be heredity.

There is a pattern to this type of hair loss, which shows patches of hair loss. Then there is a pattern that indicates a thinning that appears to be more general it’s called diffuse Alopecia Areata. In severe cases there can be total scalp baldness technically known as alopecia totalis. It doesn’t happen too often but the entire body can become hairless called Alopecia Universalis. With men, it can affect total hair loss of the beard.

It would seem that the condition alopecia areata affects children right up to younger adults. In very rare cases, it will affect toddlers and it could affect children into their mid adulthood. It is not contagious. Often when estrogen and progesterone therapies are stopped, there will be hair loss but this is very different from Alopecia Areata.

One many wonder how a diagnosis can be made when there are so many varying types of hair loss. Each condition has their own specific characteristics. In this case, when the hairs are looked at closely the hairs seem to form an exclamation point. In some cases, though an actual biopsy of the scalp has to be performed in order to confirm the condition.

As far as treatment goes in about 50% of the cases, the hair will just grow back in on its own. For the other 50% there are various treatments both natural and chemical that are available to them, although the natural treatments are safer.

By: Jane Carter

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