Alopecia Areata belongs to a group of diseases that typically cause patches of or total baldness. In many cases, the hair loss is reversible and grow normally after several months. In some cases, however, the hair loss is permanent. It has been reported that the areas of hair loss may tingle or be painful to the touch.
Alopecia areata (AA) can occur at any age but most cases first develop in teenagers and children. AA commonly involves hair loss in one or more round or oval spots on the scalp. For baldness that occurs in only one spot on the head, it’s called alopecia areata monolocularis. Alopecia areata multilocularis is where there are multiple areas of hair loss. If total hair loss is observed in the head, it is referred to as alopecia totalis. If all body hair becomes absent then it is alopecia universalis.
AA usually starts small with the skin beneath unscarred. The hair tends to fall out over a short period of time, with the loss commonly occurring more on one side of the scalp than the other. AA is not contagious but evidence suggests that sufferers who have had family members with AA will likely inherit the disease. Research has also pointed to relatives with autoimmune diseases. AA is understood to be an autoimmune disorder that attacks the creation process of hair follicles (individual hairs) or stops it completely.
The use of a group of drugs called corticosteroids has shown limited success in treating AA by either injection or topical applications (creams). The cream is not as effective as it does not penetrate the deep layers of the skin down to the follicle bulb where it is required. The injections are used on areas of small patches of hair loss. Oral administration of corticosteroids has been proven effective but only within the period from which they are taken.
Sufferers with AA can either have their symptoms regress back to the point of healthy hair growth or it may worsen. Typically those with a greater number of patches will exhibit AA totalis. Loss of hair also means the scalp burns more easily in the sun. The effects of AA are mostly psychological (lower self-esteem etc.). Conversely, having AA will lead to psychological stress, social phobias, depression and anxiety due to its outward appearance.
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