Who Gets Alopecia Areata
While anyone can get alopecia areata, some people have a greater risk of developing it. Those most likely to get it have:
A close blood relative with alopecia areata: Its estimated that about 10% to 20% of people with alopecia areata have a family member who has it. Because many people try to hide hair loss, this percentage may be higher.
Asthma, hay fever, atopic dermatitis, thyroid disease, vitiligo, or Down syndrome: Research shows that people who have one of these diseases are more likely to get alopecia areata.
Been treating cancer with a drug called nivolumab: While its too early to say whether this greatly increases your risk, a few cancer patients who received a drug called nivolumab have developed alopecia areata. The drug is used to treat lung cancer and melanoma that has spread. Hair loss usually begins a few months after they start treatment. Its called nivolumab-induced alopecia areata, and the hair loss is considered a good sign. This type of hair loss usually means that the drug is working.You can treat this hair loss with a corticosteroid that you apply to the bald spots. It allows the hair to regrow without stopping cancer treatment.
Your race may also affect your risk of getting alopecia areata. In a large study, researchers found that black and Hispanic nurses were more likely than non-Hispanic white nurses to develop this disease.
What Is The Best Treatment For Alopecia Areata
The best treatment for Alopecia Areata includes a combination of both medical and natural treatments coupled with a healthy balanced diet.
Medical treatments include topical agents, oral treatments, and light therapy. Substances like zinc, biotin, aloe vera, topical gels, and onion juice are sometimes recommended to be applied to the scalp.
Following oils may be used to manage Alopecia Areata:
Include a balanced and anti-inflammatory diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Further scalp massages and herbal supplements such as ginseng, green tea, and Chinese hibiscus are also recommended to treat Alopecia Areata.
How Is Hair Loss Diagnosed
Persistent hair loss often indicates an underlying health issue.
Your doctor or dermatologist can determine the cause of your hair loss based on a physical examination and your health history. In some cases, simple dietary changes can help. Your doctor may also change your prescription medications.
If your dermatologist suspects an autoimmune or skin disease, they might take a biopsy of the skin on your scalp.
This will involve carefully removing a small section of skin for laboratory testing. Its important to keep in mind that hair growth is a complex process. It may take time to determine the exact cause of your hair loss.
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Treatment For Hair Loss
Although hair loss technically doesnt need to be treated, it can have a significant impact on your self-esteem and confidence which is reason enough to address it. Plus, hair loss could be indicative of other issues like mineral deficiencies or unknown illnesses.
Just on its own merits, we dont need to treat hair thinning, but I dont want to underestimate the significance of aesthetics, says Dr. Hamburger. Our patients suffer enough from damage to their joints, swollen joints, and sometimes weight loss or muscle wasting. Theyve got enough going on with their appearance and their self-image, they certainly dont need something as important as hair loss to deal with, too.
Talk to your doctor to find out whether one of the following will help treat your RA-related hair loss.
What Are The Seven Different Types Of Autoimmune Diseases
What Are Autoimmune Disorders and How Do They Affect You?
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the joints.
- Lupus erythematosus is a type of lupus that affects the entire body .
- Inflammatory bowel disease is a type of bowel disease that .
- Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects people .
- Diabetes mellitus type 1.
- Guillain-Barre syndrome is a neurological disorder.
- Inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy that lasts for a long time.
New Hope For Autoimmune
When my daughter was in elementary school she had a classmate with just a few patches of hair on an otherwise bald scalp. The effect was undeniably startling. I came to learn that the child had alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss when immune cells attack the hair follicles. About 2 percent of Americans suffer from some form of the disorder, which can unfortunately be difficult to treat.
Recently Stanford dermatologist Anthony Oro, MD, PhD, along with dermatology resident Milene Crispin, MD, and dermatologist Justin Ko, MD, collaborated with researchers in the laboratory of Brett King, MD, PhD, at Yale University to research new treatments for the condition. They published their findings today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.
Oro, who directs the Stanford Hair Loss Clinic, explained in an email to me:
Over 10,000 hairs on your head grow continuously like flowers in a garden. Normally the body’s immune system allows the hair follicles to peacefully elongate. However, in patients with the common alopecia areata, the body’s immune system attacks mature hair follicles, often results in irreversible and total hair loss, called alopecia universalis. Living with alopecia is emotionally traumatic, especially for women and young girls, and there are no currently FDA approved treatments.
As Oro described:
Is There A Test For Alopecia Areata
There is no single test to tell you if you have alopecia areata. Doctors usually see if you have the disease by:
- Looking at the areas where the hair has been lost and at your nails.
- Looking at your hair and hair follicle openings.
- Asking about your medical and family history.
- Ordering blood tests or other lab tests.
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Hair Loss: Whats Normal Whats Not
You can tell if youre experiencing out-of-the-ordinary hair loss if youre spotting strands of hair in places you normally wouldnt.
When Im asking about hair loss that might be pathologic, I say, When you wake up in the morning, do you notice hair on your pillow? says Dr. Blazer. We all lose hair in the shower, or when we brush and comb. Its really when youre noticing hair loss where you shouldnt, or patterns of hair loss, like patches.
Consider whether amount of hair youre shedding is more than usual .
If what you are experiencing is strikingly different from your normal, it is worth asking your doctor about it, says Carolyn Goh, MD, a dermatologist at UCLA Health Encino. True patches of hair loss or rashes on the scalp along with the hair loss are often signs of more serious hair loss.
Key Points About Alopecia Areata
- Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that involves the immune system attacking the cells in your hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
- The most common symptoms of alopecia areata include patchy hair loss and nail changes, such as depressions in your fingernails, vertical ridges along your nails and rough nail texture.
- Scientists believe that a combination of genes and environmental factors play a role in causing alopecia areata.
- Conventional treatments for alopecia areata include corticosteroids , minoxidil, anthralin, diphencyprone and immunosuppressants.
9 Natural Treatments for Alopecia Areata
Find Out What Is Causing Your Hair Loss
For 3 years after getting off birth control my hair fell out in clumps. Constantly. After the first year or so my hair was permanently worn back in an ever-shrinking bun. I was desperate for answers, panicking, my Mom was crying over it when shed see me and doctors had NOTHING to say about it except, sorry hun, you look normal to me, nothing shows up in your blood, maybe youre aging?, give it some time, sometimes the pill has weird side effects, are you really stressed?, you know you could always just use Rogaine but for life, you cant get off it. WOW, THANKS.
I spent so much money on ridiculous products that burned my scalp or did absolutely nothing. I had it in my head that it was the hormonal imbalances or the PCOS . Finally, when a doctor confirmed it was Hashimotos . Hair loss is a major symptom of both hypothyroid and Hashimotos which I had persistently been asking to be tested for I will tell you right now, many conventional doctors and Endocrinologists do not test for this properly, if you suspect you have either of these, please do yourself a favor and go to a Naturopath, Integrative Medicine Doctor, or Functional Medicine Doctor. They will get you proper testing done, invest the money youre worth it.
Also, accept it might not just be one reason or another. Your body has A LOT going on and so do you, there are many factors that contribute to hair loss, figure out these contributing factors and get on them.
| PC: Danny Ospina
What Does Thyroid Disease
Unlike male pattern baldness, the hair loss of thyroid disease usually involves your whole scalp and not just certain areas. So rather than a receding hairline or bald spots, its typical for all of the hair to appear sparse or thin. The exception is alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that sometimes occurs with thyroid disease, which does cause bald patches.
Recommended Reading: Is Hair Loss A Symptom Of Menopause
Recommended Reading: Will Hair Loss From Thyroid Grow Back
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Is Alopecia A Symptom Of Something Else
Hair loss can be terrifying when you first deal with alopecia. Sometimes you may find a handful of hair while taking a shower. You may also sometimes find yourself losing hair from your eyebrows and eyelashes. But there is help! Hair loss is reversible and, in most cases, can be managed effectively through diet, lifestyle changes, and medication.
Do you have unexplained hair loss?
Consult one of our Dermatologists: Doctors for Skin & Hair Treatment, available online.
Using our MFine app, you can also consult a General Physician online for all acute and chronic illnesses, all from the comfort of your home.
You could also get a lab test done at your home with free home sample collection and order medicines online.
Hair Follicle Immune Privilege Collapse
The hair growth cycle is divided into three phases: anagen , catagen , and telogen . When telogen hairs are shed, new anagen hairs grow to replace them, beginning a new cycle. Current evidence suggests that the collapse of IP in HF is the principal event in AA pathogenesis. Currently, the concept of IP is believed to be a major factor in immune tolerance, particularly in the brain, eyes, gonads, fetomaternal placenta, and HFs. IP acts by suppressing immune-mediated inflammation and favoring immune tolerance from harmful effects of inappropriate immune recognition.14 In the hair bulge, proximal HF epithelia exhibit an IP area during anagen.15 IP protects epithelial stem cells, which are essential for remodeling capacity and HF regeneration. A previous study supported these hypotheses using a murine model for skin graft transplantation. It was observed that despite the rejection of epidermal pigment changes, donor HF melanocytes survived and evaded immune rejection.16
Read Also: What Helps Thinning Hair In Women
What Is Hashimotos Thyroiditis
Hashimotoâs thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroid disease, can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. According to the American Thyroid Association, it is an autoimmune disorder that causes long-term inflammation of the thyroid. Over time, the thyroid gland struggles to produce enough thyroid hormones, which leads to a slow or underactive thyroid . Hashimotoâs thyroiditis occurs most commonly in middle-aged women, but it can appear at any age and sometimes affects men and children.
What Can You Do To Treat It
Lupus hair loss may be reversible, if you dont have discoid lesions. Hair loss will only reverse itself, however, if youre able to control the disease.
In addition to a corticosteroid and an immunosuppressant to manage symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an antimalarial drug to reduce lupus flares.
You may also receive biologics, which are intravenous drugs that can help relieve lupus symptoms. Follow your doctors instructions and take your medication as directed.
It can take weeks or months for lupus to go into remission. In the meantime, here are tips to help you cope with hair loss:
- Avoid sun exposure. The sun can trigger lupus flares and discoid lesions. Protect your skin and head when outdoors. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen.
- Change your medication. If you believe that your medication is contributing to hair loss, talk to your doctor and discuss alternative drugs, or perhaps reducing your dosage.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may also slow hair loss. Also, ask your doctor about vitamins and supplements that can help strengthen your hair and reduce hair loss. Vitamins for hair growth include biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and zinc.
- Limit stress. Certain factors can trigger a lupus flare and worsen hair loss. Stress is a known lupus trigger. To help reduce stress, try exercise and meditation. These 10 ways to relieve stress can also help.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep between eight and nine hours a night
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What Are Current Treatments For Alopecia Areata
Before treatment is started, it is essential to have realistic expectations, and to know that at this time there is no cure for AA and that the goals of treatment are to suppress hair loss and promote regrowth. Due to the unpredictable nature of AA, recurrence can happen, with only 30% of patients experiencing long-lasting remissions.
The first treatment choice for patients with limited, patchy AA is topical steroids or locally injected steroids , because of the minimal side effects, ease of application, and excellent response in most low-severity cases. Occasionally, specific topical irritating medications are applied to the scalp to try to reset the autoimmune process and regrow hair. Some of these prescriptions are squaric acid or anthralin , and they are also applied during doctors office visits.
For rapidly progressing or more widespread alopecia, systemic steroids or other immunosuppressants can be used. Recently, a newer class of medications called JAK inhibitors has shown promise at improving even advanced AA, but there has been a high relapse rate if treatment is stopped. Nevertheless, many clinical trials are being done for new AA treatments.
Family and patient education, as well as psychological support, are essential in the management of AA. Prosthetic and cosmetic options, like wigs, are also options in more extensive or nonresponsive cases. Support groups can be found on the National Alopecia Areata Foundation website.
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