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Alopecia areata is one of the most common causes of hair loss, especially in young people. According to the observations of doctors, children and young adults most often struggle with alopecia areata. It is estimated that about 60 percent. patients with alopecia areata are under 30 years of age. What are the causes and symptoms of alopecia areata? What is the treatment?

Alopecia areata(Latinalopecia areata ) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the hair follicles are damaged and hair lossin such a way that large spots, similar in shape to patches, remain on the scalp. These types of changes may appear not only on the scalp, but also in any other hairy area (e.g. eyebrows, chin, etc.).

The onset of the disease usually occurs in childhood or young age (the disease most often affects people between the ages of 20 and 40, men and women equally), and it can occur at any time in life. It is worth noting that the course of the disease is the worse, and the more difficult the treatment, the earliersymptoms of alopecia areata appear .

Alopecia areata - causes

The exact causes of alopecia areata are unknown. It is believed that the disease has an autoimmune origin , i.e. in its course, the immune system attacks the hair follicles as it considers them "foreign".

This causes inflammatory changes that contribute to damage to the hair follicles and hair loss.

The frequent coexistence of alopecia areata with other autoimmune conditionssuch asatopic dermatitis , speaks for autoimmune conditioningvitiligo , thyroiditis (most commonly autoimmune thyroiditisHashimoto), colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosusortype 1 diabetes.

The onset of the disease most often occurs in childhood or at an early age. It is estimated that 2/3 of patients are under 30 years of age.

Alopecia areata can also be inherited (family history is foundin 20-60 percent sick). Occasionally, certain antigens may increase the susceptibility to alopecia areata as well as increase its prevalence in first-degree relatives or identical twins.

In addition, alopecia areata affects approx. 10 percent. people withDown syndrome(this suggests the involvement of genes located on chromosome 21 in the development of this type of alopecia).

Some people include alopecia areata among the group of diseasespsychodermatologicalbecause they believe that this type of hair loss may be nervous and result from stress, severe and exhausting emotional states.

In addition, alopecia areata can be associated with vascular disorders in the scalp, which can lead to disturbed hair growth phases and hair loss.

Some people believe that the development of alopecia areata can also be influenced by hormonal or deficiency factors (e.g. deficiency ofzinc ).

Alopecia areata - symptoms

The first symptoms of alopecia areata most often appear on the head, although they may occur in the facial hair or elsewhere on the body that are hairy.

The first focus of baldness is coin-sized. With time, it is joined by new alopecia foci, i.e. new plaque spots on the scalp, which can be single or multiple, and also of various sizes (however, in most cases the lesion is 5-10 cm in diameter). In addition, they occur in a limited space, less often they affect the entire surface of the scalp.

For alopecia areata the so-called exclamation-point hair that appears around alopecia outbreaks. It is short, broken hair, the detached ends of which are thicker and darker than the roots.

About 14-25 percent sick people lose hair all over their head.

Although inflammatory changes occur in the course of the disease, the symptoms of inflammation do not appear. There is practically no redness or peeling on hairless skin. Some patients may only complain of itchy skin on a balding spot.

In severe cases of the disease, the accompanying symptoms are pathologicalchanges on the nails .

After 3-6 months, hair usually grows back on its own ( although not in all patients). Initially white or light blonde, they regain their original color after 6-8 weeks. However, you should know that the hair may start falling out again ( recurrent alopecia areata ).

It's hard to deal with alopecia areatań Dobry TVN

Alopecia areata - treatment

Treatment of alopecia areatais difficult, long-lasting and may not bring the expected results. The treatment you choose depends on your age, the amount of hair lost, and any side effects that treatment may cause.

  • minoxidil - minoxidil-based lotions (5%) to be applied to the scalp stimulatehair growth.The solution is rubbed into the affected areas twice a day. Unfortunately, side effects in the form of local skin reactions may occur: redness and flaking;
  • immunosuppressive preparations: cyclosporine (orally)corticosteroids(orally and / or topically);
  • photochemotherapy (PUVA - psoralens UVA) - the patient receives psoralen (a drug sensitizing to light), and then is irradiated with selected UVA rays. Irradiation is carried out 3 times a week;
  • cryotherapy- the use of cryotherapy in this case should be very careful, because even a short-term excessive temperature reduction may damage the hair follicles;
  • local immunotherapy- is the best documented treatment for alopecia areata. It consists in inducing contact hypersensitivity with the use of strongcontact allergenscontact;

CHECK>>How to treat baldness in men?

The newest yet experimental treatment for alopecia areata is one with an agent called ruxolitinib (which is usually used to treat bone marrow diseases such as bone marrow fibrosis)

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center administered this remedy twice a day to three patients with moderate to severe alopecia areata for five months, and it was found that all of the subjects had lost their hair loss and that their hair began to grow back.

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Alopecia areata - types

If you lose all the hair on your head, it is called total baldness. If all hair is lost throughout the body, it is called generalized alopecia.

In turn, extensive hair loss with no tendency to regrow suggests malignant alopecia. However, if the inflammatory foci form a characteristic band around the head, including the occipital, frontal and temporal areas, one can be sure of banded alopecia.

In addition, alopecia areata can be chronic (hair can fall out all the time, without interruption) or recurrent (hair stops falling out, grows back, and after some time alopecia outbreaks reappear).

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