Alopecia Areata – An Overview
Any sudden, patchy loss of hair may be due to AA. This condition is relatively common, and as many as 1 in 1,000 people may suffer from it at some time. The cause is unknown, and occasionally it can affect a large percentage of the scalp.
The causes can be numerous, but the good news is that it is many times due to an imbalance in the person’s system. If this is rectified, it will result in complete regrowth of hair. An effective set of blood tests is necessary to reveal any imbalances. Some of the most common causes are medications, pregnancy, birth control pills, thyroid malfunctions, anemia, syphilis and arthritis. Whatever the cause may be, the body’s response is to initiate an autoimmune response. This immune response makes the body perceive the follicles as foreign objects, and attempts to reject them from the system. A careful review of your medical history and the blood work we outline below should help identify the problem.
Alopecia Areata Prognosis
With AA the hair usually reappears on its own over time. However, in persistent cases, steroid injections may help. Sometimes the condition becomes severe or recurrent, and the patient may even lose eyebrows and lashes (Alopecia Totalis) or all body hair (Alopecia Universalis). Overall, 50% of people experiencing AA before puberty will continue to experience symptoms throughout their lifetime.
Currently, there is no treatment that can completely cure severe AA. A multifaceted approach has included the use of irritants such as dithranol and systemic steroids. Treatment with immune enhancers is occasionally useful, but can cause unpleasant side-effects. Topical Minoxidil with or without oral steroids used for short periods has been administered. Cyclosporin may have dramatic effects, but they are usually temporary.
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