Alopecia areata, also called “spot baldness” because it creates roundish or oval spots of baldness, is an acquired skin disease. While typically confined to the scalp, alopecia areata can affect any part of the body that has hair on it, though this is uncommon. In most cases, there are just a few spots of hair on the scalp which go bald. These patches generally spontaneously regrow their hair, though this is not always the case.
There is generally no scarring of the scalp or body where hair loss occurs and alopecia areata rarely occurs before the age of three. While the exact causes are unknown, most scientists agree that alopecia areata is a hereditary disorder which is triggered or aggravated by outside environmental factors.
Looking Deeper at the Causes of Alopecia Areata
Modern research into alopecia areata suggests that the underlying cause of the disorder is an abnormality in the immune system. This abnormality causes the immune system to turn on itself, attacking the body. This is called autoimmunity. As the immune system attacks the body, the body’s tissue system starts to break down, particularly in the hair follicles. This directly leads to the disruption of normal hair growth.
Upon closer examination, biopsies have shown that lymphocytes which are abnormal take over the root of the hair follicle, thus disrupting hair growth.
Types of Alopecia Areata
This can either happen in spots around the scalp (as is typical) or diffuse to the whole scalp, resulting in diffuse alopecia areata. If there is only one spot of baldness, this is called alopecia areata monolocularis. If more than one spot is present, it is called alopecia areata multiocularis. It is also of note that alopecia areata can be accompanied by other autoimmune disorders such as:
How is Alopecia Areata Treated?
There are a number of different treatment options available for alopecia areata sufferers. The type of treatment you receive is generally based on the type of alopecia areata you have as well as the severity of the disorder. Of course, because so many smaller cases of alopecia areata go into spontaneous remission, treatment isn’t always necessary (meaning your hair will grow back on its own). Unfortunately, if you have lost hair over a larger area of your scalp or body or the hair loss has gone on for a longer length of time, hair regrowth becomes less and less likely.
The most common first treatments for alopecia areata are reducing stress and covering up the areas of baldness (as this can cause emotional distress). Depending on the severity, most alopecia areata sufferers simply wear a hat, shave their head, wear a wig or shave their beard until their hair grows back. If hair regrowth is not imminent, talk to your doctor to find out what hair therapy is right for you.
At Q Esthetics, we use laser hair loss treatment in conjunction with kenalog injection to effectively treat a wide variety of alopecia areata, contact us right now.