Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Alopecia Areata

There are different forms of hair loss in different people; and one such form of hair loss is alopecia areata where there is hair loss in different parts of the body. The scalp is most affected by alopecia areata and since it cases bald spots on the head in the first stages, it is also referred to as spot baldness. If the entire scalp turns bald, then the condition is referred to as alopecia totalis.
Alopecia areata is very sudden and often drastic condition where the patient’s own immune cells tend to fight their hair growing tissue for no reason. There is usually a trigger for this, like a virus.

Alopecia areata occurs in three stages where the first one is sudden hair loss which may appear minimal at first. This is followed by an enlargement of the bald area with increased hair loss. The last stage is where new hair grows to replace the lost hair, which varies with individuals. Some people may start growing hair in weeks, some in months and some, after a year too. Seldom is there any re-growth of hair at all.

It is natural for one to get frightened when there is hair loss in other parts of the body, like eyebrows and eyelashes, when suffering from alopecia areata. However it should be remembered that this is a temporary condition, and that the hair will re-grow after some time.

Most people think that the stress, some medication and a poor diet are the causes for alopecia areata; however doctors have no proof for this. In fact, doctors don’t know the cause for the patient’s immune cells to turn on the body and bring about this condition. They only know that alopecia areata is hereditary, and is not contagious.

The main course of treatment for alopecia areata is patience, while cortisone shots are useful in promoting and stimulating hair growth. These shots are successful in patients suffering from alopecia areata, but are painful. Twenty to thirty shots are required for each patch of hair loss, once a month. However this treatment is effective only on the immediate area that is injected, and does not stimulate hair growth in other bald areas.

However this form of treatment is not guaranteed by doctors as it depends on the individual and the body’s response to the medication. Sometimes a prescription cortisone cream offers a good solution which is not painful, and can be applied at home.