What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is a type of alopecia, characterized by hair loss. It falls under the larger category of autoimmune disorders.
What are the symptoms of alopecia areata?
Hair loss is the major symptom of alopecia areata, but it may affect each patient in a unique way. Hair typically falls out in clumps the size of quarters. In some patients, only a few spots are impacted, while in others the hair loss is greater. In rare cases, patients lose all of the hair on their heads or their bodies, which are known as alopecia areata totalis and alopecia areata universalis respectively.
What causes alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body rather than foreign invaders. In this condition, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which then causes the hair to fall out.
In terms of risk factors, one’s chance of developing this condition rises when a family member is impacted by alopecia areata or other autoimmune disorders like lupus, diabetes, and thyroid disease.
How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
In some cases, a doctor can diagnose this condition through a physical examination and looking at hair samples through a microscope. Blood tests and a biopsy of the scalp may be used to rule out other conditions and confirm a diagnosis as well.
What are the treatments for alopecia areata?
There is no cure for alopecia areata, but treatments can aid in regrowth. Options include corticosteroids, topical sensitizers, Rogaine, and treatments typically used for psoriasis.