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Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy hair loss. It affects males and females equally. It typically occurs on the scalp but can also affect other areas of the body. This article examines alopecia areata, what it is, what it looks like, what causes it, and what you can do.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. It typically presents as one or more bald patches on the scalp but can also occur in other hair-bearing areas, including the eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard.
Alopecia, in Latin, means hair loss. Areata refers to the patchy presentation of hair loss.
Males and females get alopecia areata equally. It also affects all racial and ethnic groups. The lifetime risk for developing alopecia areata is 2%.
You may be more at risk for alopecia areata if you have a close family member with the condition. Often, there is no family history. Scientists have suggested that genes play a role in alopecia areata.
The first symptom of alopecia areata is usually a round bald patch on the scalp. Other symptoms include:
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system targets the hair follicles, which leads to the hair falling out. The more follicles targeted, the more hair loss there is.
Even though there is hair loss, the follicles are not destroyed. Your hair can regrow.
Some studies have found that people with autoimmune diseases have a Vitamin D deficiency. However, results have been inconclusive, and more research is needed.
Some people may be more at risk than others for developing alopecia areata. Still, not all people with risk factors will develop the condition. Examples of risk factors include:
There is usually no way to prevent alopecia areata because it is an autoimmune condition.
However, taking small steps to support your immune system may help. This includes:
It can also help to manage stress, as this can trigger an autoimmune attack.
Your doctor will diagnose your condition by examining your hair visually and looking at the areas of bald spots. They may also do several tests to diagnose alopecia areata. Possible tests include:
People with alopecia areata are otherwise healthy and do not experience any systemic effects from the condition. However, people with alopecia totalis may experience a total loss of hair. This leaves the scalp completely bald.
Similarly, in alopecia universalis, the entire body becomes hairless. This is a rare condition.
People with alopecia areata may become self-conscious of their appearance. This can lead to not wanting to go out or socialize with peers.
It can help to seek mental health counseling if you are having difficulty coping with the visual effects of alopecia areata.
Here are some frequently asked questions about alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata typically looks like one or more round or oval bald patches on the scalp. This condition can also affect other areas on the face or body with hair, such as the beard, eyelashes, or eyebrows.
You can help stop alopecia areata from spreading by treating your hair gently and being careful not to pull your hair. When you wash your hair, gently massage your scalp and gently pat your hair dry. Carefully comb or brush your hair, taking care not to break the hair.
Half of the people with alopecia areata experience episodes that last less than 1 year. Hair typically grows back without the need for treatment. Other people may have more stubborn hair loss patterns that do not grow back on their own and are resistant to treatment. There is no way to predict the pattern of hair loss or how long it will last.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that causes patchy, bald areas on the scalp. While alopecia areata typically affects the scalp, it can also cause hair loss in other areas of the body with hair.
In some cases, there is a family history of the condition. Most times, there isn’t. It’s believed that genetics play a role in the development of alopecia areata.
There is no way to prevent the condition, but being gentle with the hair stops the bald patches from spreading.
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