Loosing My Hair – Could it be Alopecia?
Author: Benedict Smythe
There are a lot of factors that cause hair loss. In males, it may be associated with hereditary conditions and male pattern baldness. It may also be stress induced or it could be a side effect of medication. It could also be Alopecia. Alopecia is a medical condition that can affect anybody. It is not contagious. Symptoms usually start early and gradually progress and get worse as the patient gets older. However, there have been rare cases in which the symptom eventually decrease and disappears.
Causes of Alopecia
At present, there is no known cause of Alopecia. It is speculated that the disease may be hereditary since most people who have it, have relatives who also suffer from the condition. It is also believed to be a form of autoimmune disease. How so? Well, that’s because Alopecia occurs when the body’s immune system rejects its’ own hair follicles – thus, causing hair to fall out. It has also been observed that Alopecia affects patients with other autoimmune disorders such as SLE (Lupus), Thyroid problems, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and others.
Who is at Risk for Alopecia?
Both men and women suffer from Alopecia. It can affect people from every race and nationality. The disease can also strike at any age – but, most of the time symptoms present themselves in the teenage years. As mentioned, there is evidence that the disease is hereditary. That is why individuals who have relatives with Alopecia are at risk for developing the disease. People who presently suffer from autoimmune conditions also have a chance of developing Alopecia.
Signs/Symptoms and Patterns of Alopecia
Hair loss is the general symptom of Alopecia. The different patterns of hair loss determine what type of alopecia a person has. Alopecia Areata, is a form of Alopecia wherein the patient develops bald spots on the scalp. That is the reason why it is also referred to as Spot Baldness. Diffuse Alopecia on the other hand presents with an even degree of hair loss all over the scalp. Alopecia Barbe refers to spot baldness on beard region and Alopecia Universalis is when a person looses all bodily hair. Early symptoms of Alopecia often include tenderness (pain to touch) on the bald spots.
How is Alopecia Diagnosed
Diagnosis of Alopecia often involves a biopsy of the affected scalp tissue. This will determine if the hair fall has been really been caused by Alopecia and not by other causes. Another telltale sign of Alopecia is referred to as – Exclamation Point Hair. It means that the strands of the affected hair taper off towards the roots.
Since there is no known cause for Alopecia, it has become very difficult to cure. To this day, there is no known cure for the condition. All a patient can do is to alleviate the symptoms and help to reverse the hair loss. In this case, common hair loss treatments may be used to re-grow hair. But, a patient must remember that despite the fact that hair is growing back, the treatments can never stop new bald spots from developing. New ‘experimental’ treatments for alopecia include drugs that subdue the autoimmune system.