When you first noted the bald spot in your scalp, you thought the hair would eventually grow back. After all, you thought you were too young to be losing hair. And you felt completely healthy. Back then, your bald spot was just about the size of a quarter. Now, it has enlarged to twice that, and you’re afraid it’s getting bigger. Is it time to consult a doctor?
What is Alopecia Areata?
You may have what is known as Alopecia Areata. Normally, your immune system produces antibodies to kill microorganisms that try to invade your body and cause illness. With Alopecia Areata, these antibodies mistakenly attack your own hair follicles. Your hair follicles are damaged, causing a decrease in hair production, and thus resulting to alopecia or hair loss. You may have a single smooth round patch or a confluence of round patches on your scalp. The bald spot is neither itchy nor painful, and it is well-delineated. Most of the time, you don’t feel other symptoms. In severe cases however, Alopecia Areata leads to complete baldness.
Who can have Alopecia Areata?
An estimated 4 million Americans are affected with Alopecia Areata. Males and females are equally affected. The age of onset is usually during childhood or early adulthood. Doctors still cannot fully explain why people get Alopecia Areata, although heredity is a likely culprit. If one twin has the disease, there’s a 55% chance that the identical twin will have it too. You also are more prone to have the illness if you have a relative who got his or her bald spot before 30 years old.
While Alopecia Areata is not life-threatening, it can be devastating to those afflicted with the disease. Your bald spot may cause you to lose self-confidence in your daily activities. Being insecure about your appearance also affects the way you interact with your family and colleagues. The psychosocial aspect is the main reason most patients seek treatment.
Is there a cure?
Your doctor may have to examine your hair and scalp before a diagnosis of Alopecia Areata is made. Once the diagnosis is clear, your treatment options will be explained to you. You should understand that at present, there is no definite cure for Alopecia Areata. Your alopecia may either recur or resolve with time.
But, there are medications that will help you grow back hair, at least temporarily. Among the treatment options for this condition are the following:
· Corticosteroids. These drugs decrease the inflammation that damages your hair follicles. Steroids are commonly injected in the affected areas of your scalp. You may be given topical (less effective) steroids if you don’t like injections or oral steroids if you have larger bald spots.
· Minoxidil. This is a topical solution that promotes hair growth, also used for other forms of baldness.
· Antrhalin. Also used for patients with psoriasis, anthralin similarly decreases inflammation and is often used in combination with corticosteroids and minoxidil.
· Photochemotherapy or PUVA. You are first given the drug psoralen, either oral or topical, and then you are exposed to ultraviolet light.
Many people have heard of a new treatment for Alopecia- known as Laser Hair Therapy. This treatment has been shown to help many cases of Alopecia, and is now widely recommended as a non-invasive option.
“It’s a very simple, easy treatment” Say Ronnie Talent, CEO of Legacy Hair Center, in North Carolina. “ You simply under this special light, several times a week. It doesn’t hurt, in fact most people don’t feel a thing- and we’ve seen some nice results.”
Hair Replacement is another technology that Talent offers in his center. Using the same technology used in Hollywood- the Hair Replacement center can actually make a second scalp that can fill the bald areas- leaving a full head of hair.
Seek the services of your trusted hair specialist to find the hair loss option that will provide you aesthetically pleasing results.