Alopecia areata is one of the most common causes of hair loss. This is an autoimmune condition where patches of hair are generally lost on the scalp. Though it can be more widespread or affect virtually any area of the body that has hair including the beard in men or eyebrows\eyelashes of females. The condition can afflict a very broad spectrum of the population. Hands-down, alopecia areata is the most common cause of hair loss in children, but it also may affect individuals at any point during their life.
Significant Hair Loss and Thinning
As we mentioned, alopecia areata hair disorder is autoimmune. This means that the immune system’s white blood cells which normally function as a sort of security guard in the body to fight infection, cancer, or other foreign invaders, instead start to fight us. Specifically, in alopecia areata these white blood cells (known as T lymphocytes) attack the hairs causing patchy bald spots. No one yet knows for certain why some people suffer from this medical condition, whereas others do not.
What causes alopecia areata?
We do know that certain people are more predisposed to autoimmune conditions in general. We also know that stress can trigger episodes of alopecia areata. In fact, the classic wives’ tale of a person having their hair “turn white overnight” could perhaps be caused by alopecia areata.
Generally, with alopecia areata, the pigmented hairs are preferentially attacked by the immune system. This means that with outbreaks of the condition, gray or white hairs may remain. Also, when we start to see hair growth in the areas, the first hair follicles to return may be gray or white.
What to expect
Though we can see very severe widespread involvement with hair loss due to alopecia areata, usually it is just one or a few patches where the hair is lost. The hair loss typically leaves a completely smooth and circular area with no hair. Rarely the condition may spread to involve the entire scalp, which is known as alopecia totalis. In extremely rare circumstances it may involve all the hair on the body, and that we call alopecia universalis.
Telogen effluvium (TE) is a type of hair loss that is triggered by stress. This can be physical stress due to a medical condition, psychological stress (anxiety), or a combination of both. In most cases, the hair loss is temporary and will stop once the underlying problem is resolved. However, in some cases the hair loss can persist for an extended period of time, causing anxiety and potentially leading to further hair loss.
TE first appears as a thinning of hair on the scalp and may be limited to one area or all over. However, more often than not, TE affects the top of the scalp. In rare cases, telogen effluvium will cause a receding hairline or for you to lose all of your hair.
Hair Loss and Hair Thinning Dermatologists
The best Omaha dermatologists know that in most minor cases of alopecia areata, the hair may spontaneously regrow on its own with no treatment. However, if this is not the case, we do have several treatments available that we use for patients in our clinics at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands.
For mild, localized cases, certain applied or injected medicines can be quite effective at triggering hair growth cycles. These hair growth treatments are also quite safe. The medications work by quieting down the T-lymphocyte cells which are directly triggering the hairs to fall.
Hair Loss and Thinning Treatments
Breakthrough treatments are on the horizon for more severe cases of alopecia areata. For the longest time, we’ve had no FDA-approved treatments for this condition. However, we believe these are coming soon.
Dermatology pharmaceutical studies are getting underway to investigate an entirely new category of medications that are already being successfully used to treat other diseases. These specific medications are also showing promise for patients suffering from alopecia areata.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands | Best Dermatologist Omaha & Council Bluffs, IA | Board Certified Dermatologists
We hope you find this information helpful, especially if you or someone you know is suffering from hair loss. If you have questions regarding what type of hair loss you may have or treatments for hair loss you may benefit from, please know that we have vast experience in our clinics at diagnosing and treating all forms of hair loss. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us to schedule consultation to discuss your hair loss problem as well as upcoming clinical trials for new medications to treat alopecia areata.
For any information or to make an appointment please contact us today.