Alopecia areata – what is this condition?

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Alopecia areata is a condition that occurs due to damage to hair follicles. The consequence is excessive hair loss. The affliction can affect anyone, regardless of age, but most often it manifests itself before the age of 30. What are the causes of this disease? What are the symptoms? Can it be treated? We suggest!

Diagnosis: alopecia areata

The disease usually appears in people who are under the age of thirty. Progressive alopecia can lead to the loss of hair on the head, but many people affected also lose eyebrows and eyelashes. Rare, severe cases of alopecia areata can also be characterized by nail changes of varying severity. The patient’s progressive disease often contributes to serious psychological problems, which stem from feelings of helplessness and difficulties in accepting a changing appearance.

Causes of the disease

Scientists are still searching for answers as to why some people are afflicted with the condition. It is widely believed that the occurrence of alopecia areata is influenced by autoimmune factors, which means that the immune system of a person with alopecia symptoms is likely to attack the hair follicles, which it treats as a foreign body.

The immune system reaction consequently leads to inflammatory changes visible to the naked eye and further damage to the hair follicle and hair loss. Factors that are often considered in determining the cause of inflammation of hair follicles are, for example, atopy, genes, hormonal disorders, stress and mental disorders.

Treatment

Treatment of the disease is either topical or general. As a rule, the cause of the disease is not fully determined, so treatment may not be fully effective either. Topical treatment involves the use of glycocorticosteroids, which are administered intradermally. Topically, cisplatin and minoxidil are also used in the form of gels, creams, ointments and foams. 

General treatment consists of glucocorticosteroids and cyclosporine. For some people, doctors also opt for photochemotherapy. In addition to the methods indicated above, there are three other forms of treatment for alopecia areata. The first is mesotherapy, or treatments in which nutrient cocktails are administered under the patient’s skin. The second is carboxytherapy, which involves intradermal or subcutaneous administration of carbon dioxide. And finally, cryomassage, which involves the application of nitrous oxide to stimulate the regeneration of hair follicles.

What can be done to reduce the risk of the disease?

Due to the whole process of alopecia areata, it is difficult to prevent it. Reducing the risk of the disease is rather impossible in practice. All because the causes of the affliction are not fully known. Hair regrowth occurs after a year or two and affects about 30-60% of diagnosed cases. 10% of patients who develop the first symptoms may lose hair all over the body. People who already have other autoimmune conditions are particularly vulnerable to the onset of the disease.

main photo: unsplash.com/Towfiqu barbhuiya

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