Hair loss is a common occurrence in all individuals. The average individual can shed from fifty to one hundred hairs or more per day. Usually this normal shedding goes relatively unnoticed. Excess shedding can be due to many factors including diet or stress. Post partum shedding is also normal. Alopecia areata is a condition that causes extreme hair loss or balding patches. Hair can be lost on the scalp. It is possible that all body hair can be lost. It is unknown what causes alopecia areata, but it is thought to be a result of an autoimmune disorder.
Alopecia areata affects approximately two percent of the population. It can also be very unpredictable. Hair can grow back in and then fall back out again. The hair follicles remain viable so that hair could grow back with or without treatment. Hair loss from this condition affects children more often. Children over the age of 6 have more trouble coping with the condition due to social peer pressure. Agencies such as Locks of Love have been known to supply children with human hair wigs to help them feel more socially acceptable.
Alopecia Areata is characterized as an autoimmune disease because it is thought that the white blood cells attack the hair follicles causing hair loss. The good news is that Hair loss treatment is available. Cortisone shots can be injected into the bare spots. New growth can be visible in four weeks. Cortisone pills can also be given but may have negative side effects. Minoxidil can be applied topically to the scalp. Anthralin cream can also be applied as a treatment. This can however cause skin discoloration. Results from Anthralin can be seen in approximately eight weeks. Topical Immunotherapy is a treatment that will produce an allergic type rash. This treatment will provide growth after six months.
In treating alopecia areata as an autoimmune disease, hair loss treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms while augmenting the body’s ability to fight disease. Care is taken to supply the body with supplements and nutrients that may be lacking. Thyroid supplements or insulin injections could also be given. The good news is that hair loss from alopecia areata is not a severe life threatening condition. People with this disease are otherwise generally healthy. The disease can be emotionally difficult. Help from a psychiatrist or counselor can provide support and encouragement to those who suffer from hair loss. It is also important for family members to provide encouragement and support.
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