When alopecia causes all of the hair on a person’s head to be lost, the condition is known as alopecia totalis. This can be emotionally devastating to a person, causing stress and embarrassment. Of the two, stress has been known to prevent the regrowth of hair in alopecia totalis sufferers, so the first thing that most doctors will tell you is to try to calm down.
After that, learn everything you can about alopecia totalis in order to find out how to best treat and combat this skin disorder. While the alopecia totalis research field is still lacking in comparison to other forms of hair loss, there is quite a bit known.
What You Need to Know about Alopecia Totalis
There are generally two types of alopecia totalis which affect the population. In the first, all of the hair on the scalp falls out suddenly. There is no prior warning and the entire scalp is left completely bald within a few days to weeks. The second type of alopecia totalis occurs more gradually, starting off as alopecia areata (often called “spot baldness” because it occurs in patches or spots), and then progressing to an advanced stage of complete loss of hair on the scalp.
Regardless of which type of alopecia totalis you have, the results and statistics are the same:
A complete loss of hair on the scalp occurs. If this moves beyond the scalp, it is known as alopecia universalis
Nails can also be affected by alopecia totalis, becoming brittle and pitted, or even ridges
Although it is rare for alopecia totalis to develop above the age of forty, it can occur
Most people who develop alopecia totalis are children or younger adults
Alopecia totalis can also affect the beard, eyelashes and eyebrows as well as the scalp
Twice as many men suffer from alopecia totalis as women (2% of the world’s male population opposed to 1% of the female population). This makes alopecia totalis medically rare
As you can see, it is extremely rare to develop alopecia totalis, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Scientists and doctors are constantly working on developing new treatments for alopecia totalis as they work towards a cure. A big part of this research involves figuring out the causes of alopecia totalis.
What Causes Alopecia Totalis?
Although the medical field still isn’t completely sure what causes alopecia totalis, all modern test results and theories point to alopecia totalis being an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are when your immune system attacks the body because of a malfunction. With alopecia totalis, the autoimmune disorder hones in on the hair follicles, causing them to not function properly. Hair falls out and refuses to regrow.
It is thought that this autoimmune disorder is inherited, passed down through genes from the family. While this doesn’t mean that if someone in your family has alopecia totalis you will get it, it does mean that you may be a carrier for the gene. Most scientists agree that there is some environmental trigger that causes alopecia totalis to start, though they are unsure of what that trigger is.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that alopecia totalis is necessarily permanent because anything that can be triggered spontaneously can also be de-triggered. There is a chance for complete or partial hair recovery, even without treatment. Still, in most cases treatment is recommended by the time a patient gets to the stage of complete hair loss.
How is Alopecia Totalis Treated?
In order to treat alopecia totalis, doctors and dermatologists work to suppress the symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no cure for alopecia totalis at this time. Depending on how your alopecia totalis developed and how long you have been without hair on your scalp (as well as the extent the alopecia totalis has spread to your beard, eyebrows and eyelashes), a doctor may try:
Topical corticosteroid creams and lotions
Ultraviolet light treatment
Scalp micro pigmentation
As a last resort, when all treatments have proven ineffective, wigs can be worn to help increase confidence and comfortability with your appearance. While over time you might come to accept and even embrace your alopecia totalis, it will take some getting used to.
At Q Esthetics, we use laser hair loss treatment in conjunction with other techs effectively treat a wide variety of alopecia, contact us to learn more.