Hair Spotlight: What You Need to Know About Alopecia Areata
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Alopecia Areata is a medical condition where hair falls out in round patches, predominantly on the scalp. This condition occurs because the immune system attacks the hair follicles (the structures that contain the roots of the hair), which causes hair loss.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s own immune system attacks the body. In this case, the body is attacking its own hair follicles. Because of this, according to the AAD, an individual diagnosed with alopecia areata may also be at a higher risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease, vitilago, asthma, and allergies.
Symptoms off Alopecia Areata
There are four types of signs and symptoms that are common for those who suffer from alopecia areata –
- Patchy Hair Loss – 1 or more coin-sized, round bare patches where hair once was
- “Exclamation Mark” Hairs – hair that is narrower on the bottom, like an exclamation mark
- Widespread Hair Loss – balding at the scalp and on the body (body hair)
- Nail Problems – Nails may have tiny dents (known as pitting), or white spots or lines
Alopecia Areata Treatments
A dermatologist may prescribe and suggest a few treatments for this condition. Corticosteroids are a type of medication that suppresses the immune system. Doctors inject this treatment into the places that have lost hair or it may come in the form of a cream, lotion or ointment. Other medications for hair growth include Minoxidil or Anthralin, according to the AAD, which may help to regrow hair and alter the skin’s immune function, respectively.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, certain nutritional supplements may provide some support for this condition.
- Biotin and trace minerals, may promote hair growth. Biotin is found in lettuce, carrots and tomatoes but can also be consumed through dietary supplements.
- Beta-Sitosterol and saw palmetto seem to help hair growth in men with male pattern hair loss. In one study, men who took this combination had greater hair growth than men who took a placebo.