9 Common Myths About Alopecia

Aug 20 , 2021

Bianca Saleh

Alopecia is a disease that many people are unfamiliar with. But it's one of the most common types of hair loss, and there are plenty of myths about alopecia floating around out there. 

As an alopecia survivor, I am saddened by the myths and misconceptions floating around about the disease. But, I am here to clear it out. 

In this blog, we will dispel 9 common myths about alopecia so you can get educated on this condition.

Myth 1 - Alopecia is Contagious

This is a common misconception that can understandably lead to social isolation for those who suffer from alopecia. Alopecia isn't contagious - it's not like you can catch hair loss from someone else! 

However, if both parents have the condition and one has passed on their genes to their child, then there is around an 80% chance that their offspring will also inherit the gene.

Myth 2- Alopecia Areata is a Type of Cancerous Tumor 

FALSE! This myth has been circulating for as long as I can remember, and it's finally time to put this rumor to bed once and for all.

Truth: The two are very different conditions, with alopecia being an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. At the same time, cancer can lead to the death of cells in any part of the body and has many possible treatments available. 

If you are experiencing hair loss, it's essential to be aware that you may not have cancer.

The truth of the matter is that there has never been a single documented case of someone with alopecia developing cancer.

Myth 3- If You Get Alopecia, You Can't Dye Your Hair 

There's nothing wrong with wanting to cover up the telltale signs of alopecia - it just comes down to what makes you feel good and comfortable! Just know that while some dyes are more gentle than others, there is a risk for allergic reactions during or after coloring in those who have alopecia.

In the same vein, it's worth noting that some of your hair loss may be due to hormones and not necessarily alopecia - but if you're experiencing any other symptoms in addition to sudden balding (cellulitis or fever), please see a doctor right away!                     

Myth 4 - Alopecia Can't be Cured

Yes, there is no cure for alopecia, but with the right medication and treatment plan, many people can manage their symptoms. In some cases, this can lead to partial regrowth of hair follicles - so don't give up hope!

Myth 5 - Alopecia is a Lifestyle Choice

The sad news is, some people are naturally predisposed to suffer from hair loss. But, for others a number of common lifestyle choices made every day affect hair growth. 

For instance, smoking is linked to baldness. But, this is no surprise since smoking generally accelerates the aging process due to toxins, chemicals, carcinogens in cigarettes, or polluted air making their way into our skin's bloodstream and then attacking the follicle where keratins form proteins for healthy hair. 

But, alopecia isn't a style decision but rather an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack hair follicles.

Myth 6- Alopecia Will Stop Once Hair Loss Has Been Treated

Unfortunately, this is a common misunderstanding. If alopecia has gone into the telogen phase, there is no way to reverse or cure it. 

The first sign of the Telogen phase is when you find more hair than usual on your pillowcase. This usually means that 50% or less of the hairs are affected, and it can take up to 3 months for symptoms to be noticed.

That's not all. If you notice more hair than usual coming out when you wash or brush your hair, and observe changes in the appearance of a person's scalp such as becoming thinner over time then they might be in the Telogon phase.

It's important that those who suffer from this condition have realistic expectations and focus on improving their quality of life. 

Myth 7- Alopecia is Inherited

The genetics behind who will develop the condition is still unclear, but there's no link between family members and those that inherit it. 

One study showed that one in four siblings of someone with alopecia would develop the condition.

The research also found that those with a family member who has had it before them are more likely to develop it themselves.  However, this doesn't mean they'll get it - just that there's a higher chance of developing it than someone without any known history of having or being related to someone with alopecia.

Myth 8- Alopecia Comes From Stress

Truth: Hair loss can be a symptom of many conditions, but it is not related to excessive stress alone, and there's no evidence that "overdoing" the condition will cause stunted hair growth or stop it completely. 

However, stress increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that regulates a number of processes in the body. When cortisol levels increase, it induces hormonal changes that contribute to hair loss. 

Therefore, learning and practicing stress management techniques can help reduce the severity of the symptoms. 

On the bright side, there are hair loss treatments due to stress available for those in need of it. So if you're experiencing hair loss from a condition that is not alopecia, don't be afraid to see your doctor.

Myth 9- Alopecia Only Affects Those Under The Age of 25

Truth: Alopecia can affect people at any time, and there's no requirement or age limitation for someone. 

You can get Alopecia Areata at any time in your life. However, most individuals will experience this type of illness between ages 15-25 because they're experiencing high levels of hormonal activity as well as increased stress than what's typical for adults (although it certainly doesn’t hurt anyone).  

But most people develop it by 30 years of age. For many who have the disease, their symptoms begin during childhood or teenage years. In 80% of cases come on before the person is 40 years old and these numbers increase with every new decade you enter after that -- so don't let your hair loss stop you from living life to its fullest!

There you have it! What other myths have you heard about alopecia? 

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