What to know about Alopecia areata

September 13, 2021

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, which is where hair growth begins. Alopecia areata can affect people of any age, but is most common in people under 20.

The earliest sign of Alopecia areata is when large clumps of hair begin to fall out resulting in smooth, bald patches on the scalp. Other symptoms include thinning of hair without noticeable bald spots, hair growing but then breaking off, leaving short stubs of hair and, in rare cases, complete loss of scalp hair and body hair.

A doctor can diagnose a patient with Alopecia areata through a medical history and physical exam. Although, if the reason for hair loss is unclear, a hair analysis and blood tests may be performed to identify the cause.

There are several topical treatments to help with Alopecia areata, but most times patients’ hair grows back within a year. Some treatments include Minoxidil (topical corticosteroids), Anthralin (ointment) and contact immunotherapy. Oftentimes when patients opt out of treatment, they may wear a hair piece or try different styling and maintenance products.

Alopecia areata is not a condition that causes drastic change in day to day life. It isn’t painful, it doesn’t make patients who have it feel sick, it doesn’t result in serious health problems and it isn’t contagious.

There can be a lot of stigma associated with Alopecia areata due to hair loss and potential baldness. While wigs can help raise the confidence of those who have Alopecia areata, it’s important to be kind and supportive of family and friends who have it.

Schedule an appointment with a Wayne Health Dermatology provider today on our website or by calling 877-929-6342.

What to know about Alopecia areata

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