What is Alopecia; Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Aug 10 , 2021

Bianca Saleh

Let's talk about hair loss.

For centuries, women's beauty has been tied to our hair. This explains why dealing with hair loss is extremely difficult.

Your confidence drops, low self-esteem creeps in, and before you even know it, you're desperately trying to cover every hairless patch.

Many things can cause hair loss, but we will talk about alopecia areata specifically in this blog post.

Alopecia is a condition that affects hair follicles. Alopecia causes patches of baldness on your scalp and can also cause hair to fall out or thin from other body parts such as eyebrows or eyelashes. Alopecia is not contagious, neither can it be spread between people like some diseases.

There are different types of alopecia. In this blog, we will talk about alopecia areata.

What is Alopecia Areata

Starting at the top of your head and working down, hair loss can occur in various patterns.

If you have a patch of hair loss, it may be due to alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks its hair follicles and causes them to stop producing hair. It can affect any part or area on your scalp, but typically only one spot at a time.

Alopecia areata can also affect your eyebrows, eyelashes, and other areas on the body with hair.

Alopecia areata isn't dangerous, but it can be a real nuisance. It's not contagious, and there's no cure for it (although some research suggests that cortisone injections might help).

It's not just women who need to worry about alopecia. Even men suffer from this condition. But, alopecia has a higher emotional toll on women compared to men. It is highly devastating for self-image, and that's why most women remain silent.

Unfortunately, the medical world pays little attention to the issue of hair loss in women. Since it is not 'life threatening,' doctors often overlook our complaints. We're forced to discover solutions on our own.

Who Gets It

People of all races and ages can get alopecia areata. It is also more likely to occur in people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus or thyroid disease. Alopecia in women is more depressing to deal with since beauty in ladies is measured by hair.

Alopecia can be due to an underlying condition such as thyroid disease, lupus (an autoimmune disorder), leukemia (a type of cancer), or medications used for chemotherapy. Some conditions increase your risk of getting alopecia.

There are some things you can do to prevent or reduce your chances of going bald. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly - and cut down on stress if possible (stress is one of the main causes). You can also try a scalp massage to help stimulate circulation and hair growth.

Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia

Signs that you might have alopecia include;

  • A hard or tight feeling in one spot of the scalp
  • Unexplained patches of baldness or thinning hair
  • Round scars where hair has fallen out
  • Redness, scaling, or sore spots on the scalp
  • Itching, burning, or pain on the hairless spot.

How to Treat It

Treatment for alopecia is dependent on the cause but may include medications to stimulate hair growth or surgeries.

But, the first step is to consider what caused it in the first place. This could be stress, thyroid problems, or other medical conditions which may need further investigation.

As well as treating underlying causes of hair loss, some medications and treatments can help with regrowing hair like minoxidil/rogaine, or a combination of this and finasteride.

But, let's take a look at the two most common administered treatments for alopecia; steroid injections and PRP. Both these treatments have mixed results, but they're still better than just letting alopecia take its course.

Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are also used to help with regrowing hair, but these are sometimes not recommended because of the risk of side effects and addiction. Steroid injections can be damaging if given too often or incorrectly, so they're usually only used in extreme cases when everything else has failed.

Side effects of steroid injections can include thinning hair, acne, and weight gain.

PRP

One other treatment for alopecia is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP therapy is a newer treatment and involves taking the person's blood and spinning it to get out the platelets. It involves taking the person's blood and spinning it to get out the platelets, which are concentrated with growth factors that can be injected back into their scalp.

PRP therapy has less side effects, but it's not without risk either, as there is the possibility for bruising or infection. It also doesn't always work right away. Sometimes people need more than one treatment to see any results at all. And some might even need to be on treatment for life.

Preventing Future Hair Loss

Sadly, there is no cure for alopecia. But fortunately, it can be prevented if you take precautions to avoid hair-tugging or pulling and using too much heat on their scalp.

So you'll want to wear a hat in places that use high levels of heating, such as airports or train stations.

You should also avoid using hair dye or other chemicals on the scalp and wearing tight clothes like hats that might cause friction against your scalp.

If you have alopecia, there are some natural ways of preventing further hair loss. One is by eating protein-rich foods such as beans, fish, eggs, and meat and drinking plenty of water. Another is by using the natural herb nettle leaf, which you can buy from most health stores.

Wrapping Up

The main takeaway is that although hair loss can definitely be more difficult, it's not impossible to deal with it. There are many ways you can get better with the right help from professionals and the correct treatment plan.

Alopecia areata really does suck, but if you've been looking into this disease and learning about possible treatments, then at least you know that there is hope.

Together we fight alopecia!

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