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  • All You Need to Know About ALOPECIA

    Posted on January 17th, 2009 admin 1 comment
    Benedict Smythe asked:

    Alopecia areata is a medical condition wherein hair, most commonly on the scalp is lost. This often occurs either in spots or in larger patterns.

    Causes

    Alopecia areata is a condition resulting from a defect in the body’s immune system. The disease is autoimmune, a condition wherein the body’s immune system and immune cells attack the other cells in the body. In alopecia areata, immune cells attack and destroy its own hair follicles resulting in diminished hair growth and subsequent baldness.

    The condition is inherited and the gene responsible for it has been mapped to be found on chromosome 8. The inherited gene, with the interplay of environmental stressor such as pathogens or emotional stress can all contribute to the development of the disease. It is sometimes linked with other autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematuos, vitiligo and rheumatoid arthritis.

    Patterns

    The most common pattern on the disease is the spotted appearance. As such, this has been known as spot baldness.

    Diffuse alopecia areata happens when the entire head hair experiences general thinning. No accentuated areas of baldness can be distinguished.

    When all the hair in the scalp is lost, the condition is called alopecia areata totalis. This condition rarely occurs.

    The most severe of the patterns is hair loss in the entire body, including eyebrows and even pubic area. This condition, like alopecia areata totalis rarely occurs.

    Affected Population

    The condition usually occurs in the younger adults, teenagers and children. Adults and toddlers can also be affected.

    Diagnosis

    Bald spots can be seen immediately in the scalp and beard area. This spots may come in a variety of shapes. These areas may have painful of tingling sensations.

    A characteristic feature of alopecia areata is an exclamation point hair. Areas of hair loss has this kind of hair which may be seen thin near the scalp thus looking like an exclamation point.

    Scalp biopsy is the most certain diagnostic feature of alopecia. However, it is seldom necessary especially if other diagnostic features have been identified.

    Treatment

    Almost half of the patients with alopecia areata have hair regrowth within a year even without medical treatment. The probability of hair regrowth decreases when the period of time a person has experienced hair loss has been very long. Creams and shampoos containing fluocinonide or clobestasol have been used to improve the condition. Other medications include minoxidil and cyclosporine have been used singly or combined.

    Recently, aromatherapy oils have been shown to have positive effects on patients with alopecia areata. Aromatherapy essential oils like thyme, lavender and rosemary have promising effects.

    No single treatment has been found to cure alopecia. This is especially true since the mechanism of the disease has not yet been fully elucidated. Prevention cannot be identified also because of the said reason.

    Prognosis

    Patients with minimal hair loss due to alopecia, or those with smaller spots before treatment usually get better and experience hair regrowth. However, those with severe hair loss prior to treatment have less likely chances of hair regrowth. This may unfortunately lead to alopecia areata totalis or alopecia areata universalis. The patients face the effects of alopecia which may be psychological or emotional stress.



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