An estimated 6.8 million people in the United States and 147 million people internationally have or will develop alopecia in their life. While alopecia is a fairly common condition, many people with the condition feel isolated socially or like they are different from their peers. Here are some basics about alopecia including what the condition is, what causes it, and what the treatment options are.
What is alopecia?
Medically known as alopecia areata, it is a condition where an individual’s immune system incorrectly attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Though the damage done to the hair follicles is typically not permanent, it still can be very hard on children and adults in social situations and impact one’s self-image.
What causes alopecia?
Alopecia is caused by an abnormality in the immune system. This condition can lead to autoimmunity, or the tendency of the immune system to attack itself. That is what happens in alopecia, your immune system is attacking the hair follicles which affects the normal growth and function of the hair. It can also be inherited from a family member who has the same condition.
What happens during alopecia?
When alopecia starts, you’ll usually start to see clumps of hair falling out, leaving patches of hairless areas on your scalp. Your hair may also be thinning out. Your hair may grow back where it’s been lost, only to start falling out on another part of the body. Hair may start to grow back after a few months but come back white and fine.
How is alopecia treated?
Luckily, there are various treatment options for alopecia. One option is corticosteroid injections into the scalp every four to six weeks. Topical corticosteroids can be applied to the affected area. You can also try contact immunotherapy which creates an allergic reaction on the scalp that will trigger hair growth. The final option is a psoralen with ultraviolet A light therapy for large patches of skin affected by alopecia. A consultation at Stockton Dermatology can help you to determine the best course of action for your alopecia.
If you are experiencing hair loss or another skin condition, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us. We’d love to discuss treatment options and help you get back to being healthy. Call our Phoenix office at (480) 610-6366.