Alopecia areata is considered an auto immune condition ,in which the immune system, which is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere.
Alopecia areata often occurs in people whose family members have other autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, or Addisons disease. People who have alopecia areata do not usually have other autoimmune diseases, but they can have a higher occurrence of thyroid disease, atopic eczema, nasal allergies, and asthma.
In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches. In some people, hair loss is more extensive. The disease can progress to cause total loss of hair on the head (referred to as alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body (alopecia areata universalis).This can occur in both male and female, at any age.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What Causes Alopecia ?
Bernie: Alopecia is an auto immune condition ,the immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles that make the hair. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continually supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair.
Scientists do not know exactly why the hair follicles undergo these changes, but they suspect that a combination of genes may predispose some people to the disease- some type of trigger from inside or outside the body brings on the attack against the hair follicles.
Q: Will my hair ever grow back?
Bernie: There is every chance that your hair will regrow, but it may also fall out again. No one can predict when it might regrow or fall out. The course of the disease varies from person to person. Some people lose just a few patches of hair, then the hair regrows, and the condition never recurs. Other people continue to lose and regrow hair for many years. A few lose all the hair on their head; some lose all the hair on their head, face, and body. Even in those who lose all their hair, the possibility for full regrowth remains.In some, the initial hair regrowth is white, with a gradual return of the original hair colour. In most, the regrown hair is ultimately the same colour and texture as the original hair.
Q: Is alopecia due to nerves?
Bernie: No, it is not a nervous disorder. You have not caused alopecia. It is an illness and nothing to feel ashamed of.
Q: Who is affected?
Bernie: Research suggests that at any one time, one in a thousand people may be affected, but over a lifetime the risk of experiencing alopecia areata can be as high as one or two per hundred.
Q: How does alopecia areata start?
Bernie: Alopecia usually starts with a bald patch, which often disappears within six months to two years. Sometimes two patches can merge together and wider areas will be affected. In some cases total baldness may occur. There is no way at present to predict the course of alopecia in individual clients. Research suggests that 65% of people will experience one or two patches of hair loss while 35% will experience more persistent hair loss. Approximately 7% will experience total hair loss.
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