It May Not Be the Holiday Stress. You May Have Alopecia
We can’t deny it, this is one of the most stressful times of the year. As we plan for holiday get-togethers, Christmas presents, family feasts, and everything else associated with the holidays, we tend to drive ourselves mad. With all the craziness, you may notice some extra hair missing. There’s a possibility that you’re experiencing alopecia. Before you stress any further, we’ll tell you all about alopecia so you can determine if it’s holiday chaos causing your hair loss or something a bit more serious.
What Is Alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term used to describe baldness or hair loss. This isn’t just your normal daily 100 strands. Alopecia is a sudden and significant amount of hair loss. There are several different types of alopecia, each describe the type of hair loss. The one common factor among the types of alopecia is that they are all forms of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are conditions that cause the immune system to begin receiving the wrong message and sees a part of the body as a foreign object. In response, the immune system will begin to attack the body. Why the immune system gets the wrong message, doctors are unsure. However, we do know that with alopecia, the immune system begins to attack the hair follicles causing the hair to fall out.
Types of Alopecia
1. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is a condition in which hair falls out in patches. These patches of hair loss often start out in a small dime-sized area and spread out over time. Patches will appear in different areas of the scalp and even on the body like the eyebrows, legs, arms, chest hair, etc.
2. Alopecia Totalis
Alopecia totalis is classified as complete hair loss across the entire scalp creating total baldness.
3. Alopecia Universalis
Similar to alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis is also complete and total hair loss, however, instead of experiencing complete hair loss of the scalp, those with alopecia universalis experience complete hair loss all over the body. This includes eyebrows, eyelashes, and even pubic hairs.
4. Male/Female Pattern Baldness
This may be the most common form of hair loss. It involves the thinning and hair loss in a pattern on the scalp, either beginning on the top of the scalp or on the sides.
Can Alopecia Be Treated?
Alopecia simply attacks the hair follicles, causing them to fall out. It doesn’t usually affect the body’s ability to grow hair. So if the cause of the hair loss can be treated, it could possibly stop the hair loss and allow your hair to grow freely.
Since hair loss is caused by stress, your dermatologist may recommend an exercise routine and getting enough sleep in addition to the treatment they recommend.
Certain medications, like steroids and immunosuppressants, can also help the body normalize and stop the immune system’s attack on the hair follicles. If successful, the hair will stop falling out and grow normally.
Dermatologists may also recommend an anthralin treatment that consists of applying the prescribed medicated cream, anthralin, to any bald spots, allowing it to sit for a short time and wiping it off. This treatment is often prescribed as a second line of treatment for patients who use minoxidil, also known as Rogaine.
These are just a few treatment options. To get the best method for you, speak to a professional dermatologist. If you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio, visit our experts at The Dermatology Group can help you with advice, resources, and possible treatment. Give us a call today!