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Alopecia Areata by Emily Luebbers

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Alopecia is a medical term for baldness. There are three types of alopecia. Types consist of alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis. The most common is alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is patches of hair loss, usually on the scalp; they can also be throughout the body. Then there is alopecia totalis, this is when you have complete loss of scalp hair. Lastly, there is alopecia universalis. Alopecia universalis is total loss of all body hair.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some part of your own body. The hair follicles are what are being attacked in alopecia areata. When the hair follicles are attacked, the person’s hair begins to fall out. This is not contagious and it does not scar when hair falls out. When falling out, it often falls out in clumps, about the size of a quarter. The amount of hair lost will vary from person to person. In some cases the person will only have a few spots and in other cases it will lead to complete baldness. Alopecia areata can be a very unpredictable disease.

Anyone can develop alopecia areata. It even affects both genders equally. However, there is slightly increased risk if you have any relatives with the disease. For instance; about a fifth of people with this condition have alopecia in their family history. Alopecia areata is also occasionally associated with other autoimmune conditions. For example: allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Most of the time there are not any symptoms besides hair loss. However, some people do feel a burning sensation or itching in the balding areas.

If hair loss is not widespread, the hair will most likely regrow within a few months, whether or not if treatment is used. Even for more severe cases of alopecia, it is not yet clear whether treatment will change the course of the condition. As of now, alopecia cannot be cured; however it can be treated and hair will most likely regrow. Treatments consist of; cortisone injections (under the skin), topical corticosteroids, cortisone pills, topical immunotherapy, ultraviolet light therapy and wigs.  There are also alternative therapies people try to use. These therapies consist of: acupuncture, aroma therapy, zinc, vitamin supplements, and Chinese herbs.

Reducing stress could also help with regrowth. Most of the research shows that people with alopecia have higher levels of anxiety and depression. Some people really take hair loss badly and become thoroughly distressed about it. Keeping calm and being positive could also help with regrowth during treatments. Full recovery of hair is common. In some cases, there can be a poorer outcome. There is the chance that you could develop long term alopecia, eczema, and even more widespread or complete loss of scalp or body hair. Nevertheless, in all forms of alopecia the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair growth could possibly occur without treatment and even after many years of balding.



1)     http://www.naaf.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_alopecia_intro

2)     http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002421/

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3)     http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/alopecia-areata

4)     http://www.medicinenet.com/alopecia_areata/article.htm



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