The word Alopecia is actually a term for hair loss, however it has come to refer to a specific form of hair loss called “alopecia areata”
AA is a form of hair loss that is thought to be an auto-immune disorder where at times the messages are sent to the hair follicles not to grow hair. Because Alopecia Areata causes Hair Loss which occurs on the skin, it is considered a skin disease.
Around 5 million people in the USA are affected by this disorder.
There are three forms of Alopecia. Alopecia Areata- Generally smooth round patches of hair loss. Alopecia Areata Totalis- Total scalp hair loss. Alopecia Areata Universalis- the most rare form of Hair Loss which is total body hair loss.
There is no no cure for Alopecia Areata at this time, however in most cases the hair loss is not permanent, rather it comes and goes and usually the will regrow within 6-months to a year. However once someone has one attack of alopecia areata generally there will be more.
In some cases, around 10 percent, the hair loss from Alopecia Areata is permanent.
The diagnosis process for AA includes examining the hair as well as certain blood tests.
Conventional treatments for alopecia are steroids and immunotherapy,.
The general idea behind the treatments is basically to simulate hair growth since as we noted before the hair follicles are not dead they just need to be “told” to grow hair. However since in many cases the hair will grow back on its own there are those who chose to forgo treatment with drugs.
If you yourself suffer from Alopcia Areata or know someone that does it is important to realize that aside from the physical effects of this disorder there are emotional ones as well. In women especially, hair is an important part ones appearance, as such the loss of ones hair can have devastating emotional consequences. It’s important to realize hair is not you, it doesn’t define you and the loss of it does not make some one less of a person. Bearing this in mind, someone who knows someone suffering from Alopecia Areatashould be there to support them, and make sure not let their hair define them.
(Sources include: Web MD. NAAF.org, and new-medical.net)