Alopecia areata seen as
circular bald spots
description of alopecia areata
areata often called simply as AA, is an autoimmune
disease that causes hair loss. An autoimmune disease
is one in which the immune system of the body turns
on itself. It is sometimes called spot baldness because
it causes round spots of baldness on the scalp. This
disease is quite common affecting 1 to 2 percent of
the United States population. In about 2 percent of
the patients, the disease changes into a more diffused
form of hair loss, covering wide areas of the scalp.
occurs when a person's white blood cells attack and
destroy the hair follicle's. After the hair follicles
are attacked, they stop producing hair, causing the
disctinctive localized bald patches. This tupe of hair
loss usually occurs over a short period of time.
alopecia areata can take two forms:
totalle: All hair on the scalp is lost.
univeralis: All hair on the scalp is lost,
along with the hair on the eyebrows, eyelashes, and
hair on the other parts of the body.
less sever alopecia areata can take two main forms:
areata monolocularis: Baldness occurs on
only one patch on teh scalp.
arreata barbae: Hair loss occurs in patches
on a man's beard.
areata can occur at any age, with most patients diagnosed
to be between the ages of 15 to 29 nearly half of them
below the age of 20. This is a very fair disease: an
equal number of men and women develop AA, and occurs
equally in every race.
the alopecia areata disorder is diagnosed
patients of areata areata complain of burning or pitching
in the area of balding but others don't. It's path is
unpredictable. Eighty percent of the patients have only
one bald spot. The bald patches can be round or oval
shape, and expose smooth, bals skin.
the disease only affects the scalp, but other body hair
may be affected, which aid in diagnosing the condition.
Alopecia areata also shows itself in finger nail abnormalities
such as small pits in the nail plate. People woth AA
also atopic dermatitis (an allergic skin reaction).
important diagnostic clue of alopecia areata is the
presence of "exclamation point hairs" on the
perimeter of the bald patch. These hairs are formed
as the body attacks the lower portion of the hair follicle,
and the damage produces the finely tapered end, looking
like a tiny spear stuck in the scalp.
doctor may gently pull hair along the edge to determine
whether the patient has AA. Healthy hair doesn't come
out when pulled gently but an AA diseased hair will.
options for alopecia areata
90 percent of the cases involving alopecia areata, hair
grows back on its own and no treatment is needed. The
chances of regrowth is best when the condition is localized
to just a few places on the scalp and the patient is
over 40 years old. The conditions tend to be more severe
for younger patients. If the disease progresses to alopecia
universalis or alopecia totalis, no treatment can be
sure to work well.
for treatment include:
Generally steroids reduces inflammation. In the case
of alopecia areata, steroids are used to stop the
immune cells from destroying hair follicles. The steroids
may be injected directly into the bald patch or may
prescribe a topical steeroid cream that you may apply.
When the sisease is too extensiveto treat with multiple
injections or topical cream, oral steroids are an
option. Steroids are taken only for a short period
of time because of the many side effects of long term
use, including osteoporosis, very fragile skin and
Minoxidil is usually used to treat pattern baldness
but for unknown reasons, it sometimes help with alopecia
areata. It is topically applied to bald patches.
This is a potent suppressant for T cells, the immune
system cells that hair follicles in AA. It is usually
taken orally and is commonly used to treat other conditions
such as psoriasis. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe
this for AA because it can cause kidney damage, high
blood pressure and the weakened immune system can
invite other diseases.
This chemical (dinitrochioro benzene) rapidly produces
skin sensitivity. Continued application of DNCB boosts
local immune function but can produce a continuing
rash. This can cause hair regrowth in some patients
but it does not always work. DNCB should only be taken
under the strict supervision of a doctor experienced
with this treatment.
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