Alopecia areata is fairly common form of hair loss in men, women and children, but it is not as well known as androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness). In fact as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. are affected by alopecia areata annually, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Some people may experience a single bald spot on their scalp, the hair will grow back and the hair loss will never occur again. However others may experience a pattern of shedding and regrowth and for others still, the spots may become larger and more numerous and at some point link together. For a small percentage of people experiencing alopecia areata, the disease may progress into a loss of hair all over their body.
- Alopecia areata — The most common form, with one or more coin-sized hairless patches on the scalp or other areas of the body
- Alopecia totalis — Total loss of the hair on the scalp
- Alopecia universalis — Complete loss of hair on the scalp, face and body
The Autoimmune Disease Alopecia Areata
Unlike androgenetic alopecia, where the hair follicles miniaturize and very often die, the hair follicles of people with alopecia areata remain alive and healthy, thus the possible pattern of shedding and regrowth. This form of alopecia is an autoimmune disease, where for unknown reasons, the immune system attacks the cells in their own body, and in the case of alopecia, the hair follicles. This disease causes no harm other than hair loss, but the emotional effects can be quite strong.
The Emotional Side of Alopecia Areata
The problem with having alopecia areata, other than losing your hair, is its unpredictability. It can come and go, resolve itself quickly or turn into the more severe versions alopecia totalis (loss of all scalp hair) or alopecia universalis (loss of all body hair). There is just no way to tell for sure. It’s best to seek the advice of a dermatologist, especially one that has a keen interest in alopecia. But once you have determined the cause of your hair loss (to the extent that you can), there is still the fact that you have lost some or all of your hair. Despite this just being a “cosmetic” issue, the pain of hair loss can be significant. There are more resources for women and men experiencing alopecia, including the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Taking That First Step With Your Hair Loss
When you realize you are experiencing hair loss the first step should be to meet with a dermatologist to determine what is going on. Once you have an understanding of what is happening and where your hair loss may go, feel free to give us a call with any questions you might have about hair loss solutions. Whether you are looking for a stylist to help you with styling that minimizes the visibility of your thinning hair or are interested in learning what supplemental hair options might be right for you, we are happy to help. Sometimes just talking with someone with experience in this area can be a big help. We’re happy to listen.
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