What is Alopecia?
It’s actually an autoimmune disease.
If you are losing more hair than usual and are concerned that it might be more than normal shedding, here’s what to look for: The patches from Alopecia are usually round in shape and about the size of a quarter. Some people have more severe hair loss while others lose a lesser amount. For many people, it creates a host of concerns especially when it comes to self-awareness and image. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, almost 7 million people have been diagnosed with it in the United States, and as many as 147 million people globally experience some form of this condition.
What is an autoimmune disease?
It’s a breakdown of your body’s immune system in which your immune system attacks your body.
Our immune system usually guards against bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out fighter cells to attack them. In a healthy the immune system it can tell the difference between foreign intruders and your own cells.
In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints, skin, or hair follicles as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack those healthy cells.
How does Alopecia Areata affect you?
Alopecia attacks your healthy hair follicles which results in patches of hair falling out. A follicle is the part of your body that makes hair. Cells in your immune system surround and attack your hair follicles which results in the attached hair to fall out. The more hair follicles that your immune system attacks, the more hair loss you will have.
What causes it to happen?
A specific reason has not yet been determined. Researchers are continuing to studying to understand what triggers the body’s immune system to respond this way. Many studies have indicated that STRESS plays a significant role in the development and early onset of the condition. Stress (which can affect all people of all ages) can be a catalyst to this condition as well as hair loss in general. In these difficult times most of us are feeling extremely high levels of stress. Try some yoga, meditation, or some simple breathing exercises to help reduce stress.
There may also be a genetic susceptibility.
What can be done about it?
In some situations, people with mild symptoms (like small coin-sized area(s) of hair loss); the condition may correct itself within a few months.
Sometimes corticosteroids can help. This is an anti-inflammatory treatment/drug that can help to suppress the immune system. It works to possibly reduce the frequency of flare ups or the severity of alopecia and is often given as a topical ointment, but it can also be administered orally or via an injection.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alopecia Areata and many men and women who have it will see it come and go over time. In some cases, medications and treatment options can help to reduce the flare ups but some have side effects and are only effective for a limited amount of time. Many people with Alopecia Areata often see their hair grow back depending on the severity of their condition.
You can help!
The National Alopecia Areata Foundation would love you to get out there and educate the public on what this condition is and how it impacts the quality of life for many men and women. The organization offers a variety of ideas like hosting an awareness day, craft fair, or other family-friendly events. Of course that may need to be adjusted during these times of social distancing. Learn more about Alopecia Areata by visiting the NAAF.org website. You can help be a part of changing the image and the lives of those who are living with this condition.
Contact our team at Hair Solutions of Long Island for a complimentary, private consultation to learn about the options we have available for Alopecia Areata.