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Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. In the majority of cases, hair falls out in small patches around the size of a quarter. For most people, the hair loss is nothing more than a few patches, though in some cases it can be more extreme. Sometimes, it can lead to the complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in extreme cases, the entire body (alopecia universalis). The condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, though most cases occur before the age of 30.

Causes of Alopecia Areata:

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. An autoimmune condition develops when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for foreign substances. Normally, the immune system defends your body against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria.

  • Chemicals :

    Regular and long-term use of cosmetics, such as shampoos, conditions, serums that are sulphur, ether, and paraben based, damage the hair follicles, thereby provoking hair fall and, later, alopecia if not controlled within time.

  • Mechanical

    Tying the hair tightly for a long time causes the hairline to recede back leading to traction alopecia.

  • Hormonal Factors :

    Alopecia is linked with certain hormonal fluctuations. It has been observed that a few cases of alopecia occur during various stages of life where the hormones have an active role to play. Alopecia areata is found being triggered during puberty, menopause, and after delivery.

  • Trichotillomania :

    It is a psychological disorder where a person is compelled to pull out his/her own hair on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and on other hairy areas of the body.

  • Fungal Infection :

    Conditions affecting the scalp, such as seborrheic dermatitis and tinea capitis, can also lead to patchy hair loss in the diseased area. This is a reversible condition since hair grows back once the underlying fungal infection affecting the hair follicles is treated.

  • Genetic Factors :

    Many genes have been linked with alopecia areata that participate in the body’s immune response. The genes belonging to HLA (Human leukocyte antigen) are responsible for modifying the immune response and targeting the hair follicles. It is often seen that individuals suffering from this disorder have some other autoimmune disorder unlike alopecia areata running in their families.

  • Associated Disease Condition :

    Individuals suffering from other autoimmune skin diseases, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), and lichen planus, are prone to develop alopecia areata. For instance, a person having psoriasis of the scalp has scaling, itchy skin which leads to a hair loss, thereby causing bald patches in the affected area. A similar presentation is seen in the other two skin disorders. When baldness occurs as a result of these underlying conditions, this type of alopecia areata is called as scarred alopecia. In this particular condition, the hair does not grow back due to a permanent scar formation over the hair follicles. This scar destroys the hair follicles thereby causing permanent balding in that area.

Symptoms Of Alopecia Areata :

The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. Hair usually falls out in small patches on the scalp. These patches are often several centimeters or less.

  • Hair Loss :

    The major symptom of alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss. Hair falls out leading to the formation of circular bald patches in the affected area. Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the face, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, as well as other parts of the body. Some people lose hair in a few places. Others lose it in a lot of spots.

  • Pin Point Hair :

    This type of hair growth may be seen at the margin of the bald patches resembling an exclamation mark.

  • Irritation :

    Some patients may complain of pain and itching in the bald spot, though this might be insignificant.

  • Scarring :

    Areas of hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration) in the bald spots can be seen in the individuals suffering from scarred alopecia areata.

  • Pitted Nails :

    On examining the nails, they may be pitted white or yellow.

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. 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 at once, too. The area can gradually expand, which results in greater hair loss.

Alopecia areata in children

  • Children can develop alopecia areata. 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.
  • In addition to the hair loss, children may experience nail defects, such as pitting or lesions.

Types

Several types of alopecia areata exist.

Each type is characterized by the extent of hair loss and other symptoms you may be experiencing. Each type may also have a slightly different treatment and prognosis.

  1. Alopecia areata (patchy)

    The main characteristic of this type of alopecia areata is one or more coin-sized patches of hair loss on the skin or body. If this condition expands, it may become alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.

  2. Alopecia totalis

    Alopecia totalis occurs when you have hair loss across the entire scalp. In this variety, there is a loss of hair over the whole scalp

  3. Alopecia universalis

    In addition to losing hair on the scalp, people with this type of alopecia areata also lose all hair on the face — eyebrows and eyelashes. In alopecia universalis, a complete hair loss occurs all over the body including the beard, armpits, and the private parts.

  4. Diffuse alopecia areata

    Diffuse alopecia areata may look a lot like female or male pattern hair loss. It results in sudden and unexpected thinning of hair all over the scalp, not in just one area or patch.

  5. Traction Alopecia

    Baldness is caused due to the constant mechanical pulling of the hair. This is a reversible condition if treated early, but it may become irreversible in the later stages.

  6. Ophiasis alopecia

    Hair loss that follows a band along the sides and lower back of the scalp is called ophiasis alopecia.

DIAGNOSIS

  • May be able to diagnose alopecia areata simply by looking at the extent of your hair loss and by examining a few hair samples under a microscope. May also perform a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions that cause hair loss, including fungal infections like tinea capitis. During a scalp biopsy, will remove a small piece of skin on your scalp for analysis.
  • Blood tests might be done if other autoimmune conditions are suspected.
  • The specific blood test performed depends on the particular disorder the doctor suspects. However, It will likely test for the presence of one or more abnormal antibodies. If these antibodies are found in your blood, it usually means that you have an autoimmune disorder.

Other blood tests that can help rule out other conditions include the following:

  • C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • iron levels
  • antinuclear antibody test
  • thyroid hormones
  • free and total testosterone
  • follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormone

Diet

  • Foods with sugar, processed snacks, and alcohol may increase inflammation and irritation within the body.
  • Some individuals with a diagnosed autoimmune condition may consider following an “anti-inflammatory” diet. This type of eating plan is designed to help reduce the autoimmune response in the body and decrease the chances of another hair loss episode or further hair loss.
  • To do that, you eat foods that are known to ease the inflammation process. The foundational foods of this diet, also known as the autoimmune protocol, are fruits and vegetables like blueberries, nuts, seeds, broccoli, beets, and lean meats like wild-caught salmon.
  • Eating a balanced diet — one with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat — is beneficial to your overall health for many reasons, not just for reducing inflammation.

Homeopathic medicines for Alopecia Areata :

  1. Fluoric acid
    • Tendency to develop alopecia in families.
    • Brittle hair.
    • Idiopathic hair fall.
    • Hair falls in spots, vertex baldness.
    • Hair tangles easily.
    • Light hearted attitude towards life.
    • Extreme irritability and anger.
    • All complaints aggravated by warmth and better by cold application.
  2. Phosphoric acid
    • Any sort of grief leading to hair fall
    • Takes stress easily
    • Early graying of hair (sometimes in childhood)
    • Progressive thinning of hair
    • Difficult comprehension of things
    • Long-standing effects of mental agony and patient lives in the state of shock for long
    • Extreme debility
    • Craves juicy things
  3. Phosphorus
    • Patchy baldness
    • Dryness of hair and scalp, itchy scalp, dandruff
    • Hair fall in handfuls while combing
    • Frontal baldness
    • Thin physique, long fingers, high cheek bones
    • Weakness with excess emotional vulnerability and impressionability
    • Extremely sympathetic persons who go out-of-the-way to help others
    • Hair fall after any hemorrhagic disorder
    • Scurvy
    • Fearful when alone
    • Better in company
  4. Graphites
    • Hair fall on sides
    • Patchy baldness
    • Itchy, humid eruptions on scalp that emit fetid odor
    • Constipation associated with hair fall
    • Chilly, fat patient with tendency to develop one or the other skin problems
    • Menopausal hair fall
  5. Mezereum
    • hair stick together
    • fall in handfuls
    • Crusty eruptions on scalp leading to hair fall
    • Itchy scalp, dandruff
    • Alopecia Areata affecting scalp leading to hair fall
    • Sensitive to cold air, skin rashes, eruptions, crusts below which is yellow purulent matter.
  6. Sepia
    • Baldness menopausal
    • Hair fall after delivery of the child with mental depression, leading to indifference later on
    • Hair pains when touched because of extremely sensitive hair roots
    • Irritability increased, with snappish attitude
    • Pimply eruptions near the hairline on forehead
  7. Silica
    • Baldness in young people
    • Hair fall in frontal and forehead region
    • Early graying of hair
    • Chilly with excessively sweaty cold palms
    • Nervous and anxious disposition
    • Mild types
    • Fixed ideas, highly impressionable
  8. Natrum muriaticum
    • It is frequently prescribed in cases of hair loss especially in anemic females.
  9. Lycopodium
    • This drug is frequently prescribed for complaints of hair loss, premature baldness, premature graying of hair.Offensive secretions and violent itching are a few of its common indications. The complaints are worse from warmth and better by cold applications.
  10. Nitricum acidum
    • Its one of the commonly used drugs for hair loss.
    • Loss of hair from the vertex. Sensitiveness of the scalp.