Alopecia Areata (AA) is a common syndrome that is characterized by patchy loss of hair on the scalp and other body parts. It can affect men, women and even children. AA happens when many premature follicles enter the telogen or resting phase together. Probably, it’s the third most common type of hair loss after Androgenic Alopecia and Telogen Effluvium.
In this autoimmune disorder, the immune system of the individual mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. AA patients have many white blood cells gathered around the affected follicles. This causes some mild inflammation which weakens the hair and causes bald patches. Sometimes, this shedding becomes severe to such an extent that it causes baldness.
What initiates Alopecia Areata?
Although it’s not clear what factors trigger the onset of Alopecia Areata, we have piled up some factors those may influence it further. Have a look at it.
- Genetic susceptibility
- Physical and psychological stress
- Seasonal changes
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Local skin injury
Occasionally, AA is linked with other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, thyroid, lupus, and ulcerative colitis.
What are the types of Alopecia Areata?
There are three types of Alopecia Areata.
- Alopecia Areata Totalis:
Alopecia Totalis causes complete baldness.
- Alopecia Areata Universalis:
Alopecia Universalis is the rarest form, which causes hair loss over the entire scalp and body.
- Alopecia Areata Patchy:
This is the most common form, which appears as smooth, round patches of different sizes.
How is the disorder diagnosed?
The characteristic diagnosis of AA is a well-defined round hairless area in a hair bearing part. Some people with AA observe the appearance of short hair or broken hair on the scalp. In many AA patients, the toenails and fingernails become pitted and look like sandpapers. Rarely, it becomes important to go for scalp biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Who can get affected by Alopecia Areata?
Approximately 2% of the individuals in every 100 people are become a victims of this disease. If anyone in your family tree is an AA patient, you are at a great risk of developing it eventually. The people, who suffer from it after the age of 30, have less chance that another family member will be affected by it.
It generally happens in families whose members once or are suffering from atopic eczema, asthma, hay fever, early-onset diabetes, Addison’s disease, or pernicious anemia.
Is AA treatable?
Yes, it is treatable. Today, there are various treatments available for it. Depending upon the hair loss extent and the age of the person, the doctor decides which treatment will suit the patient.
Presently available treatments cannot completely cure Alopecia Areata. They only stimulate the growth of the new hairs from the follicles. The patient has to continue the treatment to get optimum result. These treatments give effective results especially in mild cases.