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By: narayana_health Posted Apr 11, 2022 General 70 Views
(Updated Apr 14, 2022 12:07 PM)

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Hair fall is a matter of concern for all, cutting across gender and age. Many conditions cause hair fall. One of the most common reasons for hair fall is alopecia. Let’s get to understand alopecia in more detail.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is a condition in which hair falls out in small patches. It won’t be noticeable initially. But over a period of time, these patches connect to each other and become noticeable. While alopecia most commonly results in hair falling from the scalp, sometimes it causes hair to fall from eyebrows, eyelashes and face.

What is the cause?

Alopecia is an autoimmune condition that is characterised by the immune system’s attack on hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Researchers are yet to establish the real cause of alopecia. It’s found in people who have an existing autoimmune condition such as type-1 diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Some scientists suspect that genetics play a significant role in the development of alopecia.

What are the types of alopecia?

There are different types of alopecia. Some of the most common types of alopecia are as follows:

-Alopecia areata (patchy): Characterised by coin-sized patches of hair loss on skin or body.

-Alopecia totalis: When you have hair loss across the entire scalp.

-Alopecia Universalis: In addition to the scalp, people with this type of alopecia lose hair on the face, eyelashes, eyebrows, chest and pubic areas.

-Diffuse alopecia areata: The condition causes hair-thinning all over the scalp and not just in one particular area.

-Ophiasis alopecia: When hair starts falling along the sides and lower back of the scalp.

What are the symptoms of alopecia?

The main symptom of alopecia is hair fall itself. It’s quite likely that you’ll find clumps of hair on the pillow or towel. If hair falls from the back of your head, someone may bring it up to your notice.

What are the risk factors?

While the exact cause of alopecia is yet to be established, the risk factors identified are as follows:

-Family history: If it runs in your family, you’re at risk of getting it.

-Hormonal changes and medical conditions: Some of these include hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, thyroid problems, scalp infection such as ringworm, etc.

-Medications and supplements: Taking medicines for depression, arthritis, heart disease, or cancer? You’re likely to have alopecia.

-Radiation therapy to the head: After undergoing radiation, the hair may not regrow.

-Severe stress: If you have experienced a severely stressful event, you’re likely to have alopecia, though temporarily.

-Certain medical conditions: Lupus and diabetes are certain diseases that put you at risk of alopecia.

How is alopecia diagnosed?

In most cases, an experienced doctor can tell whether it’s a case of alopecia by just looking at the extent of hair loss or by examining a few hair samples under the microscope. A scalp biopsy or blood tests are also performed to ensure the condition is alopecia and not any serious underlying condition.

What are some of the most common myths that surround alopecia?

-There’s only one type of alopecia.

-Alopecia areata will have more symptoms than just hair loss.

-Alopecia areata is a form of cancer.

-Alopecia areata is contagious.

-Alopecia areata can be deadly.

How is alopecia treated?

There’s no known cure for alopecia. There are certain medications you can apply to your scalp to stimulate hair growth. In addition to these, steroid injections are commonly used to treat the condition. Light therapy, a combination of oral medication and UV light is also used in the treatment.

Natural treatment for alopecia involves aromatherapy, acupuncture, aloe vera drinks, rubbing onion juice on the scalp and using a lot of oils such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, etc. Most alternative therapies are not clinically tested or proven and hence, their efficacy is not known.

Dr. Farzana Mehboobunnisa| Consultant – Dermatology and Cosmetology| Narayana Multispeciality Hospital – HSR Layout

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