Are you or someone you know experiencing hair loss in bald patches? If so, it could be a skin disease called Alopecia Areata.
Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune skin disease. Alopecia areata affects the hair.
It’s a medical condition that makes your hair fall out in small, round patches, often leaving smooth, bald spots on your scalp.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about:
- What Is it?
- What are the causes and symptoms of the disease?
- What are the different types?
- What are the available surgical and non-invasive therapies?
- What are some home remedies for AA?
- What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?
- Is alopecia areata hereditary in children?
- Is there a link between alopecia areata and race or ethnicity?
- How long does AA last?
- Can alopecia areata be cured?
What is Alopecia Areata Condition?
Alopecia areata (AA) is a disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles within the skin, leading to loss of hair.
This condition leads to hair to fall out in small, circular patches, leaving smooth, hairless areas on the scalp.
It affects anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race. However, people with alopecia areata is more common under 30. Although it’s not harmful, it can be emotionally challenging.
- Immune System Issue: The immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles in the skin. A result of this is the body’s defence mechanism targets hair follicles, leading to hair fall in small, round patches on the scalp or other body areas.
- Genetics: Family history can play a significant role in developing Alopecia Areata. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to the condition, making them more susceptible to experiencing hair loss if a close family member also has it.
- Stress: While stress alone is not a direct cause, it can act as a catalyst for those with a genetic predisposition or a weakened immune system, leading to the onset or worsening of the condition. It’s essential to manage any pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle to minimize the risk of triggering hair loss.
Types of Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata (patchy): Small, round patches on the scalp or other body areas. Hair regrowth can be unpredictable.
Alopecia Totalis: A more severe form. Complete hair fall on the scalp, leading to baldness. Hair regrowth with therapy may be possible.
Alopecia Universalis: The most severe type, causing hair loss all over the body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair. Often begins as patchy Alopecia Areata and progresses to total hair loss.
Diffuse Alopecia Areata: Rare type results in widespread hair thinning on the scalp, lacking the typical round patches in other forms.
Alopecia Areata Ophiasis: Affects the hairline at the back of the head, around the ears, and sometimes the temples. Creates a distinctive band pattern, making it challenging to treat.
Alopecia Barbae: Hair loss in beards and/or moustaches, but hair may regrow with therapy.
The alopecia areata disease usually leads to hair loss; however, occasionally, it can cause nail alterations too. Individuals experiencing this condition typically remain healthy and do not exhibit additional symptoms.
- Hair loss: Small, round patches of baldness (pattern baldness) on the scalp or other body areas.
- It can occur suddenly within a few days or weeks.
- It may affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair.
- Severity varies from person to person.
2.Regrowth: Hair may regrow with a different texture or color.
- Regrowing hair can happen spontaneously, even without therapy.
- The new hair might be thinner, finer, or a different shade.
- Hair could potentially fall out again after regrowth.
3.Nail changes: Pitting or white spots can appear on nails.
- Small dents or depressions on the surface of nails (pitting).
- White spots or lines, also known as leukonychia, may be visible.
- These nail changes are usually temporary and improve as hair regrows
Diagnosis of Alopecia
The diagnosis of Alopecia involves extensive examination and medical tests by consulting with a dermatologist.
The doctors usually conduct physical examinations, take the personal and medical history of the patient, and perform blood tests to determine the potential cause of hair loss.
The blood tests provide a quick result and are useful in identifying any hormonal or autoimmune diseases that could be contributing to the hair loss.
A Doctor may recommend further tests such as a scalp biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Due to the sensitive nature of Alopecia, patients may feel worried about undergoing examinations and testing.
However, it is important to note that the diagnosis is essential in determining the appropriate therapy methods for full recovery and avoiding complications in the future.
Skin Treatments: Surgical & Non Invasive
In some cases, a dermatologist might recommend surgical treatment for alopecia areata.
Surgical options include:
- Hair Transplant: This procedure involves taking hair from one part of the scalp (the donor site) and transplanting it to the area affected by alopecia areata (the recipient site).
This can be done using follicular unit transplantation (FUT) where a strip of skin with hair follicles is removed and transplanted or follicular unit extraction (FUE) where individual hair follicles are removed and transplanted.
- Scalp Reduction: This surgery removes the bald areas of the scalp and stretches the remaining skin with hair to cover the area. This option is less common and typically only recommended for patients with stable alopecia areata.
Individuals considering surgical options should discuss the potential benefits and risk factors with their healthcare provider before making any decisions.
Non-invasive therapy is more commonly used to manage alopecia areata.
These options include:
- Topical treatments (corticosteroids, minoxidil, anthralin) – These creams or ointments are applied directly to affected areas. Corticosteroids help control inflammation, minoxidil promotes hair rejuvenation, and anthralin regulates the immune response to encourage hair regrowth.
- Corticosteroid injections – Administered monthly, these injections target small patches of hair loss, delivering medication directly to the affected hair follicles to stimulate regrowth and reduce skin inflammation.
- Oral medications – Taken for short periods, these drugs suppress the immune system and promote hair rejuvenation. However, they can cause side effects, so discuss potential risks with your doct
- Light therapy (phototherapy) – uses ultraviolet (UV) light to stimulate hair rejuvenation. It’s often combined with other treatments, such as topical medications, for enhanced results.
- Natural remedies (essential oils) – Some essential oils, like lavender and rosemary, may improve hair growth. However, their effectiveness varies, so consult your dermatologist before incorporating them into your therapy plan.
PRP, or Platelet-Rich Plasma, is a non-invasive skin treatment using a patient’s blood to stimulate hair rejuvenation, especially for Alopecia Areata sufferers.
How PRP Works?
PRP involves drawing a small amount of the patient’s blood, separating platelets using a centrifuge, and mixing them with plasma. This PRP solution is then injected into the affected scalp areas. Platelets contain growth factors that stimulate hair follicles, resulting in thicker, healthier hair.
Why Choose PRP?
PRP hair therapy is a safe, non-surgical option for women who want to promote hair rejuvenation. It’s a natural treatment that uses your body’s growth factors, meaning there is no risk of an allergic reaction or rejection.
Treatment Side Effects
It’s important to understand that some treatments come with potential side effects.
Surgical therapy like hair transplants have possible side effects such as infection, scarring, swelling, and allergic reaction to the anaesthetic.
Systemic corticosteroids’ side effects may include weight gain, mood swings, and increased risk of infection.
Creams or ointments like Minoxidil can cause skin irritation, dryness, and itching.
Is it Hereditary For Children?
Alopecia areata is a hair loss situation that can affect individuals of all ages, including children. Many parents wonder if their child’s condition is hereditary, and the answer is both yes and no.
While genetics can play a role in developing alopecia areata, it is not the only factor.
Most children experiencing alopecia areata don’t have a parent suffering from the same condition, and conversely, most parents with alopecia areata don’t transmit it to their offspring.
Although alopecia areata can be observed in some families, it’s believed that a combination of poorly understood genetic and environmental aspects contribute to the manifestation of the disorder.
Intriguingly, even among identical twins who share identical genetic material, when one twin is affected by alopecia areata, the probability of the other twin developing the condition is only 55%.
Alopecia Areata Link to Race and Ethnicity
It’s important to know that it can happen to anyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.
While Alopecia Areata can occur in anyone, studies have shown that some racial and ethnic groups may be more susceptible to this condition than others.
For example, people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent have been found to experience AA more frequently than those of European descent.
Still, according to alopecia.org.uk, the occurrence of AA is more frequent in individuals of non-white ethnicity as compared to those of white ethnicity. It was found to be three times more common in people of Asian race.
However, it’s important to note that this condition is not exclusive to any specific group.
Home Remedies You Can Try
There are some home remedies you can try to alleviate symptoms and support healthy hair growth.
However, these are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment and should be used with guidance from a healthcare professional.
- Aloe vera: Has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and soothe the scalp. Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected area and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off.
- Onion juice: Onion juice has sulfur compounds that can promote hair regrowth. Apply fresh onion juice to the scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off.
- Essential oils: Certain essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and rosemary, may help promote hair growth. Mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and apply it to the scalp.
- Oatmeal: Oats contain many hair-friendly nutrients such as fiber, zinc, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, saponin, beta-glucan, and protein, making them a superfood for promoting hair growth. Honey and Lemon: The combination of honey and lemon can be beneficial for the hair. Honey’s potential antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help cleanse the scalp and remove any impurities clogging hair follicles.
Mix some honey with a few drops of lemon to use this combination and apply it directly to the scalp. After leaving it on, wash it off with a gentle shampoo.
While these home remedies may help alleviate symptoms and promote healthy hair growth, again, they are not a substitute for medical treatment.
Coping with Alopecia Areata
Losing hair can affect self-esteem, confidence, and body image, leading to anxiety, depression, and even social isolation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing this condition, seeking resources and support networks to cope with the emotional and mental impact is essential. Here are some helpful tips:
Join a support group – Various support groups are available online and in person. They provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences, gain insight, and feel less isolated.
Find an online support group from alopecia.org.uk.
Seek therapy – Consider talking to a professional counsellor or therapist who can help you address the emotional and mental impact of alopecia areata. They can provide tools and strategies to cope with the challenges of this condition.
Nhs.uk can provide you with more therapy information and guidelines.
Try self-care practices – Engaging in self-care practices such as meditation, exercise, and healthy eating can help you manage tension and improve your overall well-being.
Conclusion & Next Steps
After reading this article, we’ve learned that Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss in small, round patches. It can affect anyone but is more common in those under 30.
The leading causes include immune system issues, genetics, and stress.
There are six main types of AA, each with varying severity levels and hair loss patterns.
Therapies range from surgical interventions, such as hair transplants and scalp reductions, to non-invasive options, like topical therapy, corticosteroid injections, oral medications, light therapy, and natural remedies.
PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) is a non-surgical therapy that uses the patient’s blood to stimulate hair rejuvenation.
While genetics can play a role in AA, environmental factors also contribute to its development. People of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent may be more susceptible to AA than those of European descent.
While some therapies come with potential side effects, there are also home remedies that individuals can try to alleviate symptoms and promote healthy hair rejuvenation.
However, it is crucial to remember that these remedies are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
Coping with the emotional and mental impact of AA is crucial. Support groups, therapy, and self-care practices can help individuals manage the challenges of living with this condition.
Here’s a quick summary of what we covered:
- Alopecia areata can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or race.
- The immune system mistakenly attacking hair follicles is the primary cause.
- Genetics and pressure can play a role in developing the condition.
- There are six main types of Alopecia Areata.
- Symptoms include small, round patches of baldness, sudden hair loss, and nail changes.
- Hair may regrow with a different texture or color.
- Surgical and non-invasive therapy available.
- Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a cutting-edge, non-invasive therapy using the patient’s blood to stimulate hair rejuvenation.
- Some racial and ethnic groups may be more susceptible to this condition than others.
- Natural remedies such as aloe vera, onion juice, and essential oils can help alleviate symptoms but are not a substitute for medical treatment.
Are you struggling with Alopecia Areata and seeking a safe, effective, non-surgical solution?
Artistry Clinic offers Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) hair restoration therapy for those looking to restore their confidence and achieve thicker, healthier hair.
Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized care and the latest non-invasive therapies.
Request a consultation with a dermatologist via our contact form at our PRP London Clinic or call 0203 538 0738 to learn more about PRP hair restoration and whether it’s the right solution for you.
Rediscover the joy of having a full head of hair and start your journey towards a more confident you today.
Alopecia Areata: FAQs
- Things to avoid when you have alopecia areata
Individuals with Alopecia Areata are advised to avoid certain foods and beverages, such as ultra-processed items, fried foods, and added sugars, to minimize inflammation.
- Are eggs good for your hair?
Eggs are an excellent food choice for promoting hair health due to three key elements:
- Protein, crucial for strong, healthy hair, is abundant in eggs.
- Sulphur, another vital element found in eggs, promotes healthy hair growth by extending the growth phase of the hair cycle and supporting keratin. This protein strengthens and makes hair insoluble.
- L-lysine, an amino acid in eggs, aids in absorbing essential minerals such as iron and zinc, which are important in maintaining healthy hair.
- How do I know if my hair is regrowing?
Typically, regrowth initiates in the middle of the hairless area with delicate, colorless hair that eventually becomes thicker and regains its pigment.
Some may experience the formation of small pits on their nails, similar to those found on a thimble.
- Why is my alopecia areata coming back?
Factors that can trigger alopecia areata in the environment comprise but are not confined to allergies, chronic tension, sudden emotional or physical trauma, pregnancy, bacterial or viral infections, genetic predisposition, and local injury.
- Can alopecia be cured on its own?
Hair loss can occur repeatedly or as a single episode in different individuals. Moreover, the recovery process is also unpredictable, as hair may regrow completely in some individuals but not in others.
- How long does alopecia areata last?
Around 50% of individuals with alopecia areata experience hair loss for less than one year, and their hair regrows naturally without any medical intervention within 1 year.
These patients may also encounter repeated instances of hair loss that either spontaneously regrow or respond swiftly to therapy.