What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata may be a condition that causes hair to fall call at small patches, which may be unnoticeable. These patches may connect, however, then become noticeable. The condition develops when the system attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
Sudden hair loss may occur on the scalp, and in some cases the eyebrows, eyelashes, and face, also as other parts of the body. It also can develop slowly and recur after years between instances.
The condition may result in total hair loss, called alopecia universalis, and it can prevent hair from growing back. When hair does grow back, it’s possible for the hair to fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies from person to person.
There’s currently no cure for alopecia areata. However, there are treatments which will help hair grow back more quickly which can prevent future hair loss, also as unique ways to hide up the hair loss. Resources also are available to assist people deal with stress associated with hair loss.
Causes of alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. An autoimmune condition develops when the system mistakes healthy cells for foreign substances. Normally, the system defends your body against foreign invaders, like viruses and bacteria.
If you've got alopecia , however, your system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles. Hair follicles are the structures from which hairs grow. The follicles become smaller and stop producing hair, resulting in hair loss.
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of this condition.
However, it most often occurs in people who have a family history of other autoimmune conditions, such as type 1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. This is why some scientists suspect that genetics may contribute to the development of alopecia areata.
They also believe that certain factors in the environment are needed to trigger alopecia areata in people who are genetically predisposed to it.
Symptoms of alopecia areata
The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss. Hair usually falls call at small patches on the scalp. These patches are often several centimeters or less.
Hair loss may additionally occur on other parts of the face, just like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, also as other parts of the body. Some people lose hair in a few places. Others lose it in a lot of spots.
You may first notice clumps of hair on your pillow or within the shower. If the spots are on the back of your head, someone may bring it to your attention. However, other health conditions can also cause hair to fall out in a similar pattern. Hair loss alone isn’t wont to diagnose alopecia .
In rare cases, some people may experience more extensive hair loss. This is usually a sign of another sort of alopecia, such as:
Ø Alopecia totalis, which is the loss of all hair on the scalp
Ø Alopecia universalis, which is the loss of all hair on the entire body
Doctors might avoid using the terms “totalis” and “universalis” because some people may experience something between the 2 . It’s possible to lose all hair on the arms, legs and scalp, but not on the chest, for example.
The hair loss associated with alopecia areata is unpredictable and, as far as doctors and researchers can tell, appears to be spontaneousTrusted Source. The hair may grow back at any time then may fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies greatly from person to person.
Alopecia areata in males
Alopecia areata occurs in both men and women, but the loss of hair is likely to be more significant in men. Men are also more likely to have a family history of the hair loss condition.
Men may experience hair loss in their facial hair, as well as their scalp, chest, and back hair. Compared to male-pattern baldness, which is a gradual thinning of hair all over, hair loss from this condition causes patchy hair loss.
Alopecia areata in females
Females are more likely to develop alopecia areata than males, but it’s not clear why. The hair loss can occur on the scalp, as well as the eyebrows and lashes.
Unlike female-pattern hair loss, which is a gradual thinning of hair that covers a large area, alopecia areata may be confined to a small area. The hair loss may occur all directly , too. The area can gradually expand, which ends up in greater hair loss.
Alopecia areata in children
Children can develop alopecia areata. In fact, most people with the condition will experience their first hair loss before the age of 30.
While there is some hereditary component to alopecia areata, parents with the condition don’t always pass it on to a child. Likewise, children with this type of hair loss may not have a parent who has it.
In addition to the hair loss, children may experience nail defects, such as pitting or lesions. Adults may experience this additional symptom, too, but it’s more common in children.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, children younger than age 5 typically don’t experience much of an emotional impact from alopecia. After age 5, however, hair loss can be traumatizing for young children as they start noticing how they’re different from others.
If your child appears stressed or depressed, ask a pediatrician to recommend a counselor experienced with children.
Alopecia areata can’t be prevented because its cause is unknown.
This autoimmune disorder may be the result of several factors. Those include a family history, other autoimmune condition, and even other skin conditions. But not everyone with any of these factors will develop the hair condition. That’s why preventing it isn’t yet possible.
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