All about Alopecia: Symptoms, Cause, and Medication

OVERVIEW

Significant hair loss from the scalp is typically classified as baldness. The most frequent cause of baldness is hereditary hair loss as people age. Some people opt to ignore and conceal their hair loss. Others may hide it with other hairstyles, makeup, hats, or scarves. Others choose one of the several treatments available to prevent further hair loss or to stimulate growth.

What exactly is alopecia areata? 

Alopecia areata is a disorder in which one’s hair falls off. (Alopecia areata is the medical name for hair loss; there are other forms of alopecia.) 

Alopecia can affect your entire body or scalp and can be transient or permanent. It might result from an inheritance, hormonal changes, medical issues, or age. 

Who is affected by alopecia areata? 

Alopecia may affect anybody; however, your chances of developing alopecia areata are somewhat higher if you have a family who has the disorder. Furthermore, alopecia areata is more common in persons with autoimmune illnesses such as diabetes, lupus, or thyroid disease.

SYMPTOMS

Depending on the reason, hair loss can appear in several ways. It may come on suddenly or gradually, and it may simply affect your scalp or the whole body.

The following are some signs and symptoms of hair loss: 

  • Gradual thinning on top of the head. 

As people become older, this is the type of hair loss that occurs most frequently. On the forehead of men, hair typically starts to recede around the hairline. Typically, a woman’s hair part is broader than a man’s hair part. An increasingly common hair loss trend in older women is a receding hairline (frontal fibrosing alopecia).

  • Bald areas that are round or spotty.

On the scalp, beard, or brows, some people develop circular or speckled bald patches due to hair loss. Your skin may feel unpleasant or uncomfortable before the hair starts to come out.

  • Sudden loosening of hair. 

Trauma to the body or mind can cause hair to become loose. When you gently tug on your hair or when you are combing or washing it, you could lose a few handfuls of hair. Although relatively temporary, this kind of hair loss often causes generalized hair thinning.

  • Hair loss across the body. 

Hair loss can occur all over your body as a result of several medical conditions and treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. The hair usually grows back.

  • Scaling patches that extend across the scalp. 

Ringworm is being indicated by this. Additionally, oozing, redness, swelling, broken hair, and edema may accompany it.

THE BOTTOM LINE: WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you are concerned about ongoing hair loss in yourself or your kid and wish to seek treatment, consult your doctor. Talk to your doctor about early therapy for women who have a receding hairline (facial fibrosing alopecia) to avoid major irreversible baldness. 

Also, consult your doctor if you observe abrupt or patchy hair loss, or if you notice greater hair loss than normal when combing or washing your or your child’s hair. Unexpected hair loss might be a sign of a medical condition that has to be treated.

CAUSES

A person typically loses 50 to 100 hairs every day. This usually isn’t noticeable because new hair is sprouting at the same time. Hair loss happens when new hair does not grow in to replace the lost hair. 

Hair loss is frequently caused by one or more of the following factors:

  • Family history (heredity). 

An inherited disease that occurs as age increases is the most prevalent cause of hair loss. The terms androgenic alopecia, male-pattern baldness, and female-pattern baldness are also used to describe this disorder. Moreover, it normally happens gradually and in predictable patterns, with men experiencing a receding hairline and bald patches and women experiencing thinning hair around the top of the head.

  • Hormonal fluctuations and medical conditions 

Permanent or temporary hair loss can be brought on by a variety of illnesses, including thyroid issues, hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and other conditions. Alopecia areata is an immune-related ailment that causes patchy hair loss, scalp infections such as ringworm, and trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder, are examples of medical illnesses. 

  • Medications and nutritional supplements 

Hair loss can be brought on by several medications, including those used to treat cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure.

  • Radiation treatment to the head. 

Hair may not regrow in the same manner as previously.

  • An extremely difficult situation. 

Many people notice overall hair loss many months following physical or mental trauma. This type of hair loss is just momentary.

  • Treatments and hairstyles 

Excessive styling and tight-pulling hairstyles like pigtails and cornrows can result in traction alopecia, a form of hair loss. Permanents and hot-oil hair treatments can also result in hair loss. Hair loss may be permanent as a result of scarring.

RISK FACTORS

Hair loss can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including: 

  • Balding family history 
  • Significant weight reduction 
  • Age
  • Stress
  • Diabetes and Lupus
  • Nutritional deficiencies

PREVENTION

The majority of baldness is caused by heredity (male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness). Also, it is almost impossible to prevent this type of hair loss.

These suggestions may assist you in avoiding avoidable kinds of hair loss: 

  • Take care of your hair. Use a detangler and avoid tugging while brushing and combing your hair, especially if it is moist. A comb with large teeth might stop hair loss. Avoid using hot rollers, curling irons, hot-oil treatments, and permanent makeup. Reduce the stress that rubber bands, barrettes, and braids exert on your hair.
  • Ask your doctor if you are taking any medications or dietary supplements that might be contributing to your hair loss.
  • Sunlight and other UV light sources should be avoided. 
  • Stop smoking. Some research demonstrates a link between smoking and male baldness. 
  • Ask your doctor about acquiring a cooling hat if you are receiving chemotherapy. This cap may lessen your chances of losing hair while undergoing chemotherapy.

DIAGNOSIS

Before reaching a diagnosis, your doctor will most likely perform a physical examination and inquire about your food, hair care regimen, and medical and family history. You may also have tests like the following: 

  • The blood test. 

This might help doctors identify medical conditions that lead to hair loss.

  • Pull the trigger. 

Your doctor carefully removes a few hundred hairs to count how many fall out. This helps figure out at what stage the shedding process is in.

  • Biopsy of the scalp 

To study the hair roots under a microscope, your doctor scrapes samples from the skin or plucked hairs from the scalp. This can help detect whether hair loss is caused by an illness.

  • Light microscopy. 

Your doctor examines hairs that have been clipped at the base using a specific device. Also, microscopy aids in the detection of hair shaft abnormalities.

TREATMENT

Alopecia areata cannot be cured, however, it can be treated and hair can regrow. Moreover, online pharmacy can help you in getting medicines for alopecia easily.

Medication used to treat other illnesses is commonly used to treat alopecia. Alopecia areata treatment options include: 

  • Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines used to treat autoimmune disorders. Corticosteroids can be administered intravenously (as a shot into the scalp or other regions), orally (as a tablet), or topically (rubbed into the skin) as an ointment, cream, or foam. The response to treatment may be slow.
  • Rogaine ┬« (minoxidil): This topical medication is already used to treat pattern baldness. Hair normally begins to grow after about 12 weeks after Rogaine therapy. 

Other treatments that are used to treat alopecia with varying degrees of success include psoriasis medications and topical sensitizers (drugs that are applied to the skin and cause an allergic reaction that can cause hair growth).

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