Alopecia areata is one of the common autoimmune diseases, so the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which leads to sudden hair loss.
What is Alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is one of the common autoimmune diseases, so the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which leads to sudden hair loss in the form of multiple patches in the size of a coin in most cases, and the amount of hair falling varies between a person And another, hair loss is limited in most cases to several small patches, while hair loss may be severe in some cases and lead to hair loss in the entire scalp called Alopecia Totalis, or hair loss in the entire body called Alopecia Universalis, and the disease can affect men and women on Equally, most cases occur before the age of thirty, and the hair may fall out again after growth in some cases.
Scientists have not yet been able to determine the main cause of alopecia areata, and the disease is classified within autoimmune diseases due to the patient's immune system attacking hair follicles as a foreign body, and it is believed that the genetic factor in addition to some other cause may lead to alopecia areata. Some of these reasons include:
- - Infection with another autoimmune disease such as Thyroid disease or Vitiligo.
- - Asthma, and other allergic diseases such as Eczema or Hay fever.
- - Relatives with allergic disease, or an autoimmune disease such as Type 1 diabetes, or Rheumatoid arthritis.
Hair loss in the form of multiple patches the size of coins is the most prominent symptom of alopecia areata, and the infection occurs mainly within the scalp but any area of hair growth in the body is vulnerable to infection with the disease such as the beard or eyelashes, and hair loss may occur quickly and suddenly within several days Or, in some cases, it may require several weeks, and the hair follicles in the affected area are not destroyed and the hair can resume growth if the inflammation subsides, and most simple cases can fully recover without the need for treatment, and the infection develops in approximately thirty percent of people to The affected areas expand, or enter into a continuous cycle of hair loss and the return of its growth, and the disease develops in approximately ten percent of infected people to include the entire scalp or the entire body.
Other symptoms that can be observed when developing alopecia areata include:
- Hair growth in the form of an exclamation point, so that the diameter of the hair becomes narrower in the place near the center of the hair growth, and can be seen in the hair that grows in the spot of hair loss, or at the edges surrounding it.
- Hair breaks into the scalp before it reaches the surface of the skin.
- White or gray hair growth in areas of hair loss.
- Also, infection with alopecia areata may lead to the appearance of some symptoms and signs on the fingernails and toenails. These symptoms include the following:
- Minor zigzag on the nails.
- White streaks and spots appear.
- Nail roughness.
- Loss of nail polish.
- Thinning and cracking of nails.
Diagnosis of alopecia areata
Diagnosis of alopecia areata is carried out by the doctor performing a clinical examination, observing the symptoms associated with the disease and examining the area of hair loss, and by examining a sample of hair under a microscope, and in some cases, the doctor may need to take a biopsy (from the affected scalp area) to rule out a cause Another has led to hair loss, such as Fungal infections, which lead to exposure to some health problems in the head, such as Tinea capitis, and it is possible to do some blood tests to detect infection with another autoimmune disease, Or to exclude infection with another disease that led to hair loss, including the following:
- C-reactive protein analysis and Erythrocyte sedimentation rate.
- Iron analysis in the blood.
- Antinuclear antibody test.
- Thyroid hormone levels.
- Testosterone levels.
- Levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone and the Luteinizing hormone.
Treatment of alopecia areata
There is no treatment yet that can fully cure alopecia areata, but there are some medications that help relieve symptoms associated with the disease and regrow hair, including the following:
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed in the event of an autoimmune disease. These medications can be given as injections, oral pills, ointment, or cream.
- Topical immunotherapy: This method can be used if large amounts of hair fall out, or in case of alopecia recurrence, where an allergic reaction in the area of injury is stimulated by using some chemicals to stimulate hair growth.
- Minoxidil: Minoxidil is used to treat many types of baldness, and a person may need to use the drug for three months before hair begins to grow.
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