Veterinarian Reviewed on January 13, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Alopecia Areata is a hair loss disorder that usually afflicts the scalp, and it can sometimes also affect certain areas of the body. Hair Loss or Alopecia is rather fast and people suffering from this hair loss condition have patchy hair loss on their head and in worst cases even hair loss on their entire body. It is an autoimmune disorder that has been affecting millions of children and adult alike all over the world.
Causes of Alopecia Areata
People who have Alopecia Areata have a problem with their immune system, as their hair follicles are being attacked by their immune system’s white blood cells, causing the hair loss. Usually, when this hair disorder happens, small patches of hair are falling out on the scalp. Alopecia Areata can likewise cause total hair loss and, in some rare cases, it involves losing all of the bodily hair as well. The course of this hair loss disorder is very unpredictable, as lost hair can either grow back or not. If the hair does grow back, it may fall out again, as it is due to this unpredictability that makes this hair loss condition so exasperating and frustrating.
Alopecia Areata most often starts during childhood regardless of gender and race. Medical professionals are still baffled on what causes this autoimmune disease, although some scientists believe that genetics may have a role in this hair loss disorder. Medical research studies shows that some individuals may have a hereditary pre-disposition to some specific triggers that activate this hair loss condition. The triggers researchers believe could be some form of a virus or something from the environment. However, the gene grouping that pre-disposes an individual to certain triggers has yet to be identified. However, scientists have determined that Alopecia Areata is certainly not inherited.
Although being an autoimmune disorder, Alopecia Areata is not life threatening and doesn’t cause physical suffering. But people who are afflicted with this hair loss condition do suffer socially and emotionally, most especially if the hair loss disorder involves their whole body. Alopecia Areata has no known cure or treatment and there are no FDA approved medications or drugs either. Although, there are several treatments or cures that involve the use of some drugs that proved to be beneficial and helpful in treating hair growth, but for the cure itself in treating Alopecia Areata or preventing new incidents of hair loss is still non-existent.
At present, treatment for Alopecia Areata involve using Minoxidle, corticosteroids, topical sensitizers, photochemotherapy, Anthralin, oral cyclosporine, and sulfasalazine. These are all prescription drugs and none of them looks promising in curing this hair loss disorder and the possibilities of side effects are still there.
Aside from good efforts to promote hair growth, there are a few things that a person afflicted with Alopecia Areata can do for self protection. These include the use of sunscreen for protection of exposed areas of the body, sunglasses or various eyewear for eye protection, head covering to properly protect the scalp, antibiotic ointments to protect the nostrils, and herbal supplements just to name a few. Although, these won’t cure Alopecia Areata, it will certainly prevent or reduce the effects of hair loss.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan