Alopecia Areata is condition in which hairs are lost from an area of the body which in most cases is the scalp. It is non-scarring, inflammatory and marked by patchy areas of hair loss on the scalp and other body areas. Due this patchy hair loss it is also termed as spot baldness. This condition can occur in both males as well as females and approximately 1-2% of humans globally are affected by this. This condition can spread to entire scalp leading to complete baldness also known as Alopecia totalis and in severe cases it may even spread to the entire body causing complete body hair loss leading to the condition known as Alopecia universalis.
Alopecia Areata has tremendously negative psychological and sociological impact on the affected individuals in which individuals loose their confidence, feel shame in visiting public places and are always afraid of people finding them funny.
Quick facts :
- Alopecia Areata usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp and can change in total scalp hair loss or complete body hair loss.
- Alopecia Areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system.
- Alopecia Areata is considered an autoimmune disease. Our immune system makes white blood cells and antibodies which attacks on viruses, bacteria, and other foreign bodies. If you have an auto-immune disease, your immune system can misunderstand part or parts of your body as foreign body. In people with alopecia areata, many white blood cells gather around the affected hair follicles which are mistaken as foreign body. This causes some mild inflammation and by this hairs becoming ‘weak’ and fall out to cause the bald patches.
- It’s hereditary.
- It can occur in any age from birth to later ages but mostly it affects children and young adults.
- It’s not contagious.
- Alopecia Areata sometimes occurs in people whose family members have other autoimmune diseases, like diabetes, thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia etc.
Recent studies indicate that Alopecia areata is an immune system disorder which is a abnormality leading to autoimmunity in which your own immune system starts acting against specific tissues of your own body. In case of Alopecia areata, immune system starts attacking hair folicles and starts affects new hair formation too. These effects take place as the hair follicles enter anagen phase of the hair growth life cycle.
Exact reasons for such a action on part of the body’s own immune system are yet to be known however its believed to associated with allergic disorders, family history of similar cases making it hereditary cause, . Studies have shown that when biopsies were carried out on the skin of individuals affected by this condition, inflammatory cells of the immune system were found inside hair follicles which is an unusual place for them to be present in.
How to find if you are affected from Alopecia Areata (or aolpecia areata diagnosis)?
In most cases a dermatologist might be able to spot the problem by examining the scalp, however to have a conclusive scientific confirmation one needs to undergo a biopsy.