The Big Questions about Alopecia Areata

Woman with blonde hair falling out

Alopecia, or the medical term for hair loss, comes in one of three forms. Alopecia Areata, Totalis, and Universalis. The names correlate to different severities of the disorder, meaning partial/patches of hair loss, total hair loss on the scalp, and complete body hair loss, respectively. The main symptom, hair falling out in small patches along the scalp, is a result of the body’s immune system attacking and killing hair follicles. Alopecia destroys the hair follicle and causes it to become brittle and break, which is why the hair falls out.

Alopecia Causes

This form of hair loss often occurs in people under the age of 30, at a rate of about 6.8 million people. Of those 6.8 million, about 20% of the same as a family member that’s also had the condition. Considering how infrequently it occurs to the population as a whole, this suggests that heredity influences its onset.

Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t scientifically proven to be a cause of alopecia areata. Stress may affect one’s health by weakening the immune system, but it’s more likely that excessive stress only triggers existing cases. Chemotherapy, while it does cause hair loss, causes alopecia totalis, not areata. Chemo drugs attack the fastest-growing cells in the body, and as such will cause hair on every part of the body to stop growing and eventually fall out.

Treatment for Alopecia

Alopecia areata is a condition that has a very rapid onset, and after the hair has fallen out, it may or may not grow back. There is no known cure for the disorder, but treatments are available to attempt to coax the body into regrowing your hair. Ask your dermatologist about your options.

The most common treatments for the disorder include:

  • Corticosteroids – A similar structure to the more well-known anabolic steroids. They’re used for their anti-inflammatory properties to treat autoimmune diseases like cancer or lupus.
  • Skin Immunotherapy –  A method of treatment involving injections into the scalp to trigger an immune response, which will try to ‘jump start’ the hair production again.
  • Rogaine – One of the most popular hair restoration drugs available is often used for pattern baldness. Treatment over four months may yield results, but satisfaction is not guaranteed.

Living with Alopecia Areata

For patients that have found that their alopecia waxes and wanes frequently or in cases where hair will not grow back, alternative methods to cover it up are standard. Headwear like hats or scarves are a quick fix, and many choose to don a wig. Many have found that it’s just easier to shave their entire head to level the playing field.

Many patients also take to a technique called Scalp Micropigmentation, which involves using special micro-sized needles with natural, long-lasting ink to fill in the gaps. It’s a comfortable and natural-looking solution that can help level back out your hair’s appearance. SMP INK’s technique and equipment can help you achieve an easy-to-maintain and attractive looking solution to help you look your best. Contact us today, and we can work with you to find an alopecia treatment that’s right for you!

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