Alopecia areata is a condition related to dermatology that is characterized by sporadic, unpredictable loss of hair around the body. The alopecia is induced by an autoimmune disorder, a phenomenon where the body’s immune system acquires a default in the recognition mechanism leading to the peculiar incident of misguided attacks towards allied cells. In alopecia areata, the attacks of the immune system are focused immensely on follicular units leading to the physical symptoms of the condition. The state of hair loss, its progression, and endurance varies from one patient to the other but typically occurs in patches all around the scalp.
Characteristics and causes of alopecia areata
Biopsies of follicular units afflicted by the condition conclude concrete proof for the presence of an underlying immune disorder. The affected hair follicles under investigation have shown traces of immune lymphocytes having penetrated the bulb to prepare it for its fate of doom. Alopecia areata in certain cases could be attributed to genetics, triggered by environmental factors, or acquired later on in life. Common maladies that produce alopecia areata include lupus, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid diseases.
The hair loss pattern in alopecia areata occurs in a systematic structure with sporadic patches of varying diameters that can remain in a stable state, shrink, or expand with time. While hair loss is most prevalent in the scalp it can affect the entire body where complete hair loss is exhibited all over the patient’s physique in a state known as alopecia universals. In another case, a milder situation hair loss can affect the entire scalp leading to the appearance of a phenomenon known as alopecia totalis. Typically, hair growth resumes within 6 to 12 months after the lesions stop. Often relapses occur and the growth-loss cycle will have to be pedaled one more time.
Overextended periods of exposure to self-induced attacks, follicular units can become irreversibly damaged, imposing by extension perpetual baldness to possibly become a significant dilemma in the patient’s life.
Alopecia areata most successful treatments
Since the underlying cause, the extent of baldness, and damage to hair follicles ar all non-constant values to consider in the treatment plan, the remedies vary from one generic case to another. For hair loss that has not become permanent, patients can look to begin by having their autoimmune disorder controlled first and foremost. Once the objective is obtained, the available options of hair restoration.
For temporary alopecia, medications such as topical minoxidil can be prescribed to promote growth. However, it is worth noting that the efficiency of minoxidil declines with the increasing severity of the case. The mechanism by which minoxidil promotes growth is not fully understood but it is commonly thought the solution stimulates proliferation by increasing blood flow in the area. WIth minimal side effects, minoxidil is prescribed for various other conditions of alopecia. The solution must be applied twice daily until hair growth becomes significant. If the underlying cause is controlled by drugs or otherwise, minoxidil use can be eliminated as growth will most likely pick up a pace with the boost provided by minoxidil.
Some of the more emerging treatments for temporary alopecia areata with an oppressed underlying autoimmune disorder include PRP therapy. PRP (platelet-rich plasma) is a recent treatment that capitalizes on the body’s own growth factors to reverse hair loss and treat skin disordered on the scalp. The growth factors are extracted from the patient and injected in the scalp where they engage in their role as extracellular signaling proteins that alter the metabolic activity of follicular units to support proliferation and stimulate and maintain growth and development. Unlike Minoxidil, PRP therapy can be administered once per month. Once growth becomes visible further sessions are not necessary.
In the worst-case scenario of long-term hair loss, there is one guaranteed treatment that can reverse the baldness. Hair transplants are the option to consider in the unfortunate case of perpetual hair loss. Known throughout the century as the single reliable treatment for irreversible alopecia, hair transplants have evolved significantly from their humble techniques to be all the more efficient and successful.
Through extracting viable hair follicles, in other words, undamaged follicular units from their location and transplanting them to the affected areas where they will adapt and flourish like a lavender field in the spring.
That being said, there are a few factors to be met for you to be considered an eligible candidate for hair transplants, generous healthy hairs to damaged follicles ratio and a monitored underlying cause of baldness. The latter is more a personal choice, it is important to note that although having an unmanaged autoimmune disorder may not be a concrete barrier, going through with the treatment while the immune system is at its rowdiest will expose hair follicles to a risk of irreversible damage. Because the success of the procedure relies significantly on your finite reservoir of healthy follicles, subjecting the transplanted follicles to damage may deprive you off of another chance.
Alopecia areata is a challenging form of hair loss that some individuals are genetically predisposed to while others might acquire later on in life due to environmental triggers or as a side effect of another condition. The emotional distress that is coupled with hair loss is monumental and in some cases can alter the individual’s life. The good news is that in most cases the hair loss can be managed and restored.
Contact the Vera Clinic to learn more about alopecia areata and its treatment through an online consultation with a medical specialist. The session is both virtual and free of charge. Do not hesitate to express your concerns.