Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes your hair to fall out. This condition is a common yet severe type of alopecia, which has affected millions of people worldwide. When your immune system fails to distinguish foreign bodies from your body cells, it can attack even your hair cells by mistake. As a result, the anagen follicles deteriorate, hair growth halts, and hair shedding occurs afterward.
This hair loss condition is not limited to the pate since you have hair follicles all over your body. Therefore, it is most likely possible that you’ll lose your hair in particular or all areas of your body.
What are the symptoms and causes of alopecia areata, and how can it be treated? Continue reading to learn more about this notorious hair loss condition.
The Manifestations of Hair Loss: How to Know If You Have Alopecia Areata
How will you know if you are at risk of alopecia areata? If you want to examine your hair condition, get to know the most common indicators of alopecia areata.
1. Hair fall
The most evident yet the trickiest symptom of alopecia areata is losing your hair strands. Because the hair cells surrounding your follicles are always under attack, they can adversely affect the hair growth cycle, resulting in premature hair shedding. This symptom is often ignored, which can worsen your hair loss problem.
2. Tingling sensation on the bald spots
As shocking as it can be, you can actually feel a sting whenever your strands fall out due to alopecia areata. You can feel this painful sensation because of your swelling follicles. Therefore, it is important not to tug your hair or scratch your scalp abrasively to avoid irritating the follicles.
3. Exclamation point hair
When inflammations occur deep within the hair fibers, you’ll notice the so-called “exclamation point” hair growing on your scalp. The upper portion of the hair shafts appears wider and darker, while the attached part looks sparser and paler, thereby resembling an exclamatory punctuation mark. These strands become thinner in the long run, making them prone to strand breakage and hair fall.
4. Round bald patches
From the name itself, alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that appears as bald patches. Losing your hair strands can result in smooth patches on your scalp and other body parts, such as your beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows. These hairless spots may appear as big as a coin only, which you may not readily detect because of your unscarred skin. However, in extreme cases, the patches can grow in number and size, and scalp cars may form.
Your hair strands aren’t the only victims of alopecia areata. Your nails, another by-product of keratinization, can also be affected by this alopecia. Trachyonichia is a nail condition that causes your nails to appear dull, pale, thin, and ridged.
6. Complete hair loss
Alopecia areata can cause severe hair follicle inflammations. The affected follicles will continue to decline until they miniaturize and die, making it impossible for them to regrow new strands. As a result, your hair reaches its ending point, and you suffer from alopecia totalis or total hair loss.
Beyond the Scalp: Causes of Alopecia Areata
What’s the reason behind this autoimmune hair loss condition? Check out the list of all the plausible causes of alopecia areata.
1. Family History
Your blood does not only carry essential nutrients; it may also carry hostile genes that cause health-related issues. As a matter of fact, many autoimmune disorders are deeply linked to genetics. Studies show that having at least one family member with alopecia areata opens your possibilities of having this hereditary condition. If you also have a twin suffering from AA, there’s a bigger chance for you to inherit this condition. Since alopecia areata is inherent, its signs may already appear even in childhood.
2. Severe stress
Various researchers have investigated the correlation between extreme stress levels and alopecia areata. According to a study published by the Harvard Medical School, many patients with stress-related disorders also had an autoimmune disease. Another comparative investigation also claimed that severe stress could exhaust your immune system and prompt it to malfunction. However, more in-depth studies are needed to evaluate the impact of stress on autoimmune disorders.
3. Another autoimmune disease
Studies show that alopecia areata can be activated by another autoimmune disease related to the thyroid, skin, and blood. These autoimmune conditions also have active yet malfunctioning T-cells that attack various body organs and tissues.
For instance, an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease attacks your thyroid gland, causing hypothyroidism. A decline in thyroid hormone production can adversely impact your follicles’ metabolic activities, causing hair growth problems. As a result, your hair becomes susceptible to premature hair shedding.
4. Pernicious anemia
Pernicious anemia can happen when your intestines don’t have enough particular proteins called intrinsic factors to absorb vitamin B12. A lack of this super vitamin can inhibit your body from producing enough red blood cells needed for hair growth and regrowth.
Suffering from anemia can also prompt other autoimmune diseases, thereby putting your hair follicles at risk. Therefore, you need an adequate RBC count to ensure your hair’s safety against alopecia areata.
Solving your Hair Loss Problem: How Should You Treat Alopecia Areata?
Unfortunately, there is no proven cure for alopecia areata. However, you can still suppress its aftermath by following the tips listed below.
1. Using corticosteroid medications
Alopecia areata is a chronic inflammatory disease. Thus, most patients use corticosteroid medications to curb their symptoms. These drugs are steroid hormones that can subdue your immune system’s inflammatory effects. You can use corticosteroid injection, tablets, or ointments to prevent your follicles from swelling.
2. Protecting your hair against ultraviolet (UV) rays
Exposing your hair and scalp to ultraviolet radiation can harm your follicles in the anagen phase. The UV rays can trigger oxidative stress, which can destroy your hair cells. As a result, hair shaft growth is reduced, and the anagen follicles are coerced to shift into the catagen phase. To conclude, UV radiation can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to unwanted hair shedding.
So how can you protect your hair against UV radiation? First of all, use hair growth products with enough SPF. Second, use a sunscreen lotion to protect your skin and the hair follicles on your various body parts. Lastly, wear a hat or use an umbrella to keep your hair safe from UV rays.
3. Medications for hair growth
Since there is still no definite remedy for alopecia areata, you can stimulate hair growth instead with the use of prescribed hair-enhancing drugs such as Minoxidil or Finasteride. These meds can slow down the thinning of your hair and promote anagen follicle growth. However, you need to seek advice from your family doctor or dermatologist for proper medication.
4. Undergoing low-level light therapy (LLLT)
Undergoing a hair loss treatment called low-level light therapy is also another alternative in treating alopecia areata. This non-surgical and painless procedure involves the use of low-light wavelengths to target the affected and exacerbated follicles. LLLT works by promoting good blood circulation, hence, stimulating your hair follicles. Not only does it invigorate hair growth, but it’s also non-invasive, leaving no scars on your scalp’s tissues.
5. Encourage hair growth with a healthy diet.
All the treatments mentioned above will never be as effective as they should be as long as you have a poor diet. Therefore, you need to encourage healthy hair growth by eating nutrient-loaded meals.
Your everyday diet must include many antioxidant-enriched foods, such as leafy greens, citrus fruits, root crops, plant seeds, and dairy products. Of course, do not forget to include foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
6. Applying hair growth products
If you think hair growth products aren’t going to be powerful against alopecia areata, you are wrong. In fact, you also need to boost hair regrowth by using the most effective and natural products such as shampoos, conditioners, oils, and serums. These hair care items contain growth-enhancing nutrients that will keep your scalp and follicles hydrated and well-nourished.
Say Goodbye to Alopecia Areata.
Alopecia areata may be a formidable opponent for your hair. However, you can still redeem your hair’s pristine condition with proper handling, a healthy diet, and a hair care regimen. Therefore, opt to get the best and safest treatment for your locks, so that you can bid goodbye to alopecia areata as soon as possible.
Suffer from Hair Loss No More.
Weep no more, for you can solve your alopecia problems with excellent hair loss treatments. Always choose the most effective shampoo and conditioner for hair restoration; using the best hair growth products will definitely keep your mane long and robust.