Alopecia areata is a disease which causes intensive hair loss in small patches. With time, these patches then connect becoming more noticeable. This disease takes place when the hair follicles are attacked by the immune system, resulting to hair loss. Sudden hair loss might occur on the scalp, and in rare cases the face, eyebrows, and eyelashes, as well as other areas in the body. The hair loss develops slowly and becomes more noticeable after some time. The condition could lead to total hair loss known as alopecia universalis, and it can stop hair from growing back. The amount of hair loss and regrowth differs from one person to another.
SYMPTOMS OF ALOPECIA AREATA
The major symptom that comes with alopecia areata is excessive hair loss. Hair falls out in little patches on the scalp. Also, hair loss may take place on other parts of the face, like the eyelashes, beards, eyebrows, and other parts of the body. Most individuals lose hair in only few places. Others lose hair in many spots. At first, you may notice lumps of hair in your shower or on your pillow. If the spots happen to be at the back part of your head, someone might inform you about it.
Nevertheless, other types of skin diseases such as androgenetic alopecia can cause hair loss as well. Hair loss alone is not used in diagnosing alopecia areata. The hair loss that comes with alopecia areata can’t be predicted and, as far as researchers and doctors can tell, it appears to be self-active. The hair might regrow with time and then might fall out again.
CAUSES OF ALOPECIA AREATA
Researchers don’t really know what causes the hair follicles to get attacked by the immune system, so the major cause of this condition is not known. However, it mostly happens to individuals whose family has had a history of other autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes. For this reason, most scientists and researchers suspect that genetics also contribute to alopecia areata. It is also believed that there are some factors in the environment which trigger alopecia areata in those who are genetically susceptible to the disease.
HOW CAN THIS DISEASE BE DIAGNOSED?
A doctor will examine you to know if you have the alopecia areata. Alopecia areata can be diagnosed simply by looking at the amount of hair loss and by taking hair samples for proper examination under a microscope. Your physician may also carry out a scalp biopsy to find out other conditions which may have caused hair loss. During the scalp biopsy, your physician will take out a small piece of skin from your scalp for further analysis.
Blood tests can also be carried out if you suspect other autoimmune conditions. The type of blood test that will be performed will depend on the disorder the physician suspects. However, a physician will test you for the existence of abnormal antibodies. If these antibodies are then found in your blood, it means you have an autoimmune disorder.
As of today, there is no known cure for this disease, but there are few treatments you can try which may be able to slow down the excessive hair loss or help your hair regrow more quickly. This condition isn’t easy to predict, which means it might need some trial and error before finding something that works. For most people, hair loss still worsens despite treatment.
Some home remedy recommendations consist of rubbing garlic juice or onion, cooled green tea, rosemary oil, almond oil, coconut milk, or honey into the scalp. Even though none of these are harmful to the body, these methods are also not backed up by research.