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By Frances Chang
What is alopecia areata?
alopecia-medical term for baldness autoimmune disorder-immune system mistakenly attack hair follicles most common in people under 20, can affect children and adults of any age usually affect the scalp, can also affect other parts of the body
What cause alopecia areata?
abnormality in the immune system for unknown reason, body treats hair follicles as foreign tissue and stops its growth associated with other autoimmune conditions such as allergic disorders, thyroid disease, lupus, and vitiligo chance is higher if family member has it
What happens in alopecia areata?
one or more smooth and round hairless patches on the scalp
thinning of hair, or hair may grow and break off, leaving short stubs (exclamation point hair)
enlargement of the patches of hair loss
Severe forms of alopecia areata
Up to 5% cases, the affected persons lose all hair on the scalp. (alopecia totalis)
Less than 1% cases, all hair on the body are completely lost. (alopecia univeralis)
Outcomes of alopecia areata
50% patients will regrow hair within a year without treatment 10% patients may never regrow hair hair may regrow in one area and fall out in another area permanent hair loss more likely (family history, young age, allergies, autoimmune disease, or extensive hair loss)
How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
medical history and physical exam examine the scalp and tug gently on the hair scalp biopsy to examine hair follicles examine hair sample under microscope blood test to rule out other specific conditions such as an overactive or underactive thyroid gland
Treatment options-patchy hair loss
Corticosteroids: can be given as an injection into the scalp, orally, or applied topically. Response to therapy may be gradual. Rogaine & Psoriatec: These medications used topically can affect the immune system to stimulate hair growth (takes about 12 weeks)
Treatment options-severe hair loss
contact immunotherapy is used cyclosporine is applied topically on the scalp once a week hair may regrow within 3 months how much hair growth vary widely side effects include a severe rash and swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck.
How will alopecia affect my life?
Unlike other conditions, alopecia areata is not painful or contagious, does not make you sick or affect your daily life. It can be emotionally distressing especially for women. Professional counseling and support groups can help the patients cope with the disorder.
unpredictable condition, no reliable cure for alopecia areata, full recovery of hair is common in mild cases, poor outcome in severe cases various treatments aim to stimulate hair growth, but cannot prevent hair loss multiple treatments are used, but none consistently work for all patients
www.mercksource.com www.dermnetnz.org www.medicinenet.com www.wikipedia.org www.images.search.yahoo.com