Alopecia Areata affects SO many people across the world. The condition occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks their hair follicles, causing patchy hair loss on the scalp, face and other areas of the body. Every September month is an opportunity to create awareness and support around Alopecia and hairloss in general.
Alopecia Areata can occur in multiple family members, suggesting genetics play a part in the condition. This autoimmune disease affects men and women of all ages and ethnicities, and often first appears in childhood. Several forms of this type of alopecia exist, including:
- Alopecia Areata, which results in round patches of hair loss
- Alopecia Totalis, characterised by the complete loss of scalp hair
- Alopecia Universalis, which results in the total loss of hair on the scalp and body
- Ophiasis, which occurs in a wave pattern around the edge of the scalp
Hair regrowth for people with Alopecia Areata is dependent on the type and severity of their condition. For some, regrowth can be unpredictable, while for others, hair can regrow within a few months. The condition may also be cyclical, meaning hair can fall out repeatedly over time.
Fast facts on Alopecia Areata
Here are some key points about Alopecia Areata. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- One in five people with alopecia areata also has a family member who has experienced the condition.
- Alopecia areata often develops suddenly, over the course of just a few days.
- There is little scientific evidence that alopecia areata is caused by stress.
- People with alopecia areata who have only a few patches of hair loss often experience a spontaneous, full recovery, without the need for treatment.
- There is no cure for alopecia areata.
There is currently no cure for alopecia areata, although there are some forms of treatment that can be suggested by doctors to help hair re-grow more quickly.
The most common form of alopecia areata treatment is the use of corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system. These are mostly commonly administered through local injections, topical ointment application, or orally.
Alopecia areata does not directly make people sick, nor is it contagious. It can, however, be difficult to adapt to emotionally. For many people, alopecia areata is a traumatic disease that warrants treatment addressing the emotional aspect of hair loss, as well as the hair loss itself.
Support groups and counselling are available for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and to discuss common psychological reactions to the condition.
As conventional treatments for alopecia are extremely limited, studies that support natural treatments for alopecia are even thinner on the ground.
There are some people that recommend rubbing onion or garlic juice, cooled green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, honey, or coconut milk into the scalp. While none of these are likely to cause harm, their effectiveness is also not supported by research.
Some people turn to alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture and aromatherapy, although there is little, if any, evidence to support these treatments.