Alopecia areata in women is an autoimmune skin condition that causes hair loss. It is much more common in women than in men like most immune diseases.
If you are a woman, hair can be one of the most important things in your body, it is a part of you that gives you security and makes you feel beautiful, but what happens when you have a hair problem like Alopecia Areata? In this article we will discuss everything related to this condition that will allow you to better address it, both medically and emotionally.
Alopecia areata is a peculiar form of hair loss that usually affects the scalp, but can occur on any hairy skin. It produces one or more bald patches without any obvious change in the texture of the affected skin, a scarless alopecia. This condition affects men and women. It is an autoimmune disorder, in which the hair follicles are damaged by a misguided immune system.
For most patients, the condition resolves without treatment within a year, but hair loss is sometimes permanent. Many treatments are known to aid hair growth. Multiple treatments may be necessary, and none works consistently for all patients.
What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata in women or men is an autoimmune skin condition that causes hair loss. It is a chronic condition in which people can have "relapses" of hair loss (when symptoms reappear and then disappear and reappear) at different times in their life.
What causes alopecia areata?
People with alopecia areata have an immune system that mistakenly attacks certain hair follicles for an unknown reason. The immune system is made up of body organs, cells, and tissues that normally protect the body from damage such as infection. In some cases the immune system does not work properly. Scientists are not exactly sure why this happens.
Who can get alopecia areata?
Any person, male or female, of all races and ethnic backgrounds can be affected by alopecia areata. In fact, about 1 in 50 people will have symptoms of alopecia areata at some point in their life (usually before the age of 30); however, the disease usually begins during childhood. Someone who has a family member with alopecia areata has a higher risk of suffering from it. Although it is more common than you think in women.
What are the signs and / or symptoms of alopecia areata?
People with alopecia areata may first notice that they are losing hair when they see clumps of hair on the pillow. As more hair falls out, you are likely to see round, smooth patches of total hair loss on the scalp, but other areas of the body can be affected as well. The most common is to have only one or a few patches of hair loss, but sometimes a person can lose all their hair (on the head), including eyelashes and eyebrows. This condition is called "totalis" areata.
Some people may lose all body hair (areata universalis); however, this is less common. Alopecia areata can affect a person's fingernails and toenails; the nails look dull and thin and in some cases may have white spots and appear "dented". The shape of the nail does not usually change and usually does not fall off. People who have alopecia areata do not have pain related to hair loss and can live a healthy life.
Will my hair grow back?
About half of people who have mild symptoms of alopecia areata will not have permanent hair follicle damage, so their hair will grow back naturally. However, it can take up to a year. The other 50% may have permanent hair loss with or without scars. We recommend that you act as soon as possible so that we can support you in the best way.
How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose alopecia areata by looking at the hair loss spots, since the area is usually smooth and with short strands of hair that have come off. Sometimes the provider may request a blood test to check for other possible medical conditions or autoimmune diseases that can cause hair loss, such as anemia or thyroid conditions. Rarely, a biopsy in which a small amount of tissue is removed from the area is needed to make the diagnosis.
Is alopecia areata contagious?
No. Alopecia areata is not contagious and cannot be passed on to others.
It can be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for alopecia areata at this time; However, science is always advancing and a cure may be possible in the future. The good news is that there are medications that are effective for some people.
What kind of doctor treats people with alopecia areata?
Un medical specialist can treat mild alopecia areata, but most often the person is referred to a trichologist doctor or a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in caring for people with hair conditions.
What are the treatments for alopecia areata?
People who have mild alopecia areata may not need treatment as their hair can grow back naturally. However, other people with moderate to severe hair loss will likely benefit from the treatment. The goal of the treatment is to promote hair growth and stop further hair loss.
Topical ointments that are applied to areas of hair loss are usually prescribed first. These include 'corticosteroids'. This type of medicine stimulates the follicles so that the hair grows. When topical therapy does not work, injections (shots) such as Triamcinolone may be suggested to be given to the scalp or face (eyebrows), depending on where the hair loss patches are located. New hair growth usually takes 4-6 weeks. The injections are repeated every 4-6 weeks until the hair has grown back. The medication is usually discontinued after 6 months if no improvement is seen.
When alopecia areata is advanced, other medications such as minoxidil (eg, Rogaine), anthralin, topical immunotherapy, and / or photochemotherapy may be suggested.
What about vitamins and minerals to treat alopecia areata in women?
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for many bodily functions, including hair growth. Scientists have found that low levels of certain vitamins / minerals, or in some cases, too much, can cause hair loss. This is particularly true for people who have alopecia areata. For example, medical research has shown that low vitamin D levels may be a factor in hair loss and that excess vitamin A may also be associated with hair loss. More research is needed to determine if low levels of other vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and biotin play a role in hair loss. Talk to your GP or dermatologist to find out if your vitamin D level is within normal limits or if you could benefit from taking a vitamin D and / or other vitamin or mineral supplement.
Is it normal to feel sad about having alopecia areata?
It is totally normal to feel upset about hair loss, but it is also normal not to worry; or even feel proud over time. Each person handles hair loss differently; however, many young women are embarrassed about their hair loss and find it helpful to speak to a counselor or therapist.
Some young women with alopecia areata choose to wear a wig or toupee, a hat or scarf, false eyelashes, and get a temporary tattoo (if they don't have eyebrow hair). Learning about alopecia areata is empowering, and finding other people like you through groups can help you realize that you are not alone.
If my parents have alopecia areata, will they inherit it from me?
Not necessarily, but no one knows for sure why the immune system acts the way it does when it comes to alopecia. Alopecia is common in families with other autoimmune diseases. However, not everyone in the family will get an autoimmune disease. Your mom or dad may be the only people in your family who develop alopecia.
Alopecia areata in women is the result of many different genes, not just one particular gene. There is no predictor for someone to know if they will inherit alopecia. According to scientific studies, many researchers believe that the risk of developing alopecia if your father or mother has it is much lower than 1 in 5.