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Alopecia Areata

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is one type of hair loss that typically causes patches of baldness. In some cases, total baldness develops. In many cases, the hair re-grows, typically after several months. In some cases, the hair loss is permanent. Treatments to promote hair re-growth work in some cases. Alopecia means loss of hair or baldness. There are several different causes and patterns of alopecia. Alopecia areata is one type of hair loss. In the UK, it is estimated to affect about 15 in 10,000 people.

Alopecia areata can occur at any age but most cases first develop in teenagers and children. At least half of the people with alopecia areata develop their first patch of hair loss before they are 21. Males and females are equally affected. The condition tends to be milder when it first develops at an older age.

The typical pattern is for one or more bald patches to appear on the scalp. These tend to be round in shape and about the size of a large coin. They develop quite quickly. A relative, friend or hairdresser may be the first person to notice the bald patch or patches. Apart from the bald patch or patches, the scalp usually looks healthy and there is no scarring. Occasionally, there is some mild redness, mild scaling, mild burning or a slightly itchy feeling on the bald patches.
Cause of Alopecia Areata
Current evidence suggests that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity, a misguided immune system that tends to attack its own body. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body's own immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of affected skin show immune lymphocytes penetrating into the hair bulb of the hair follicles.

Alopecia areata is occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis. The diagnosis or treatment of these diseases is unlikely to affect the course of alopecia areata. Sometimes, alopecia areata occurs within family members, suggesting a role of genes.

Alopecia areata is thought to be an autoimmune disease. This occurs when your own immune system damages healthy cells in your own body. The immune system makes white blood cells (lymphocytes) and antibodies to protect against foreign objects such as bacteria, viruses, and other germs. It is not known why it is common for only certain areas of the scalp to be affected. Also, the affected hair follicles are not destroyed. Affected hair follicles are capable of making normal hair again if the immune reaction goes and the situation returns to normal.

In autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part or parts of the body as foreign. In people with alopecia areata, many white blood cells gather around the affected hair roots (hair follicles) which are mistaken as foreign. This causes some mild inflammation which leads in some way to hairs becoming weak and falling out to cause the bald patches.

It is not known why it is common for only certain areas of the scalp to be affected. Also, the affected hair follicles are not destroyed. Affected hair follicles are capable of making normal hair again if the immune reaction goes and the situation returns to normal.
Alopecia Areata Treatment Summary

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that can be suggested by doctors to help hair re-grow more quickly.

The most common form of alopecia areata treatment is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These can be administered through local injections (most common), topical ointment application, or orally.

Other medications that can be prescribed that either promote hair growth or affect the immune system include Minoxidil, Anthralin, SADBE, and DPCP. Although some of these may help with the re-growth of hair, they cannot prevent the formation of new bald patches. Some people turn to alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, although there is little, if any, evidence to support these treatments.

Various other treatments may be used or advised. These include the following:

  • A plant substance called psoralen combined with ultraviolet A (PUVA) light therapy or phototherapy has been used with some limited success. This treatment requires many light therapy sessions in a hospital outpatient department.
  • Tattooing (dermatography) can be used to create the look of eyebrows that have fallen out.
  • Counselling is sometimes helpful for people who find it difficult to cope with hair loss.
  • Complementary therapies. There is not enough evidence to say how effective complementary treatments are in treating alopecia areata (for example, acupuncture, aromatherapy, etc).

Always remember to use sunblock or a hat to protect bald patches when out in the sun.

Skinworld is the largest clinic to treat Alopecia areata with latest lasers. The first solid state excimer laser in the world pallas Excimer laser  was recently launched at Skinworld.

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Before & After Alopecia Areata Treatment At Skin World Pune

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Contact Details

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201 Ganga Commerce, Lane 5 corner, North main road, Koregaon Park, Pune - 411001
(020) 2615 1666 

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201 Kumar Point , Next To Jai Hind Collections , Parihar Chowk , Aundh , Pune - 411007
(020) 2615 1777

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