Hair Loss from Alopecia Areata Oct 19, 2021 / by Complete Family Dermatology Team
Dermatologists are not only trained for diagnosing conditions of the skin but also for hair and nails. Hair loss is typical for both men and women as an inherited trait or as they get older, but there may also be an underlying problem that’s causing your hair to fall out. Some people develop alopecia areata, which is a disease that causes hair loss anywhere on the body. If you think you may have developed alopecia, a board-certified dermatologist can successfully diagnose and treat your condition.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that mistakenly attacks a part of your body. In this case, cells surround and attack the hair follicles, which causes the hair to fall out. The more your immune system attacks the hair follicles, the more hair you’re going to lose. It’s important to note that these attacks rarely destroy the hair follicle, so it is still possible for the hair to grow back.
Who is Likely to Get Alopecia Areata?
It is estimated that approximately 6.8 million people in the U.S. have alopecia. Those that have a higher risk of developing it likely have:
- A close blood relative with alopecia areata
- Asthma, hay fever, atopic dermatitis, thyroid disease, vitiligo, or Down syndrome
- Been treating cancer with a drug called nivolumab
Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia Areata
Most people experience hair falling out in small patches around the size of a quarter. Usually, it’s only a few patches of hair, but there are cases that have had complete hair loss on both the scalp and body. Other than the loss of hair or changes in nails, people who develop alopecia are generally healthy. It can be developed by both men and women and can happen at any age, but most commonly occurs as a child or teenager. The first sign is usually a round or an oval bald patch on the scalp, but people can also lose eyelashes, eyebrows, or beard hair, too. No matter where it falls out, you typically won’t see any other signs of a rash, redness, or scarring. While hair loss is commonly the only symptom of alopecia, some people do say that they have tingling, itching, and burning in the spot where the hair falls out. In addition, some people may also see changes in their nails, which include redness, roughness, and brittleness. Researchers have found that most people suffered from hair loss in colder months, particularly October, November, and January. Very rarely do people have flare-ups during the summer.
Can Alopecia Areata Be Cured?
Alopecia areata can’t be cured, but hair can still grow back after hair loss. It may grow back on its own, but if not, you may need to seek medical treatments. Dermatologists commonly use the wait-and-see strategy for patients who have developed this disease within the year. After one year, your dermatologist may recommend a treatment to help subside hair loss and regrow the hair. Here is a list of treatment options from the AAD.
You don’t have to deal with alopecia alone. A dermatologist has the proper training, knowledge, and expertise needed to diagnose and treat this disease. Not only will they find the best treatment for you, but they can also offer self-care tips as well. For more information, please call Complete Family Dermatology in Lincoln, NE at 402-423-1111.Resource: American Academy of Dermatology Association, Hair Loss Types: Alopecia Areata Overview