Understanding Alopecia Areata: Causes and Symptoms

Understanding Alopecia

and Health

Alopecia areata is a medical condition that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes other parts of the body. It is a common autoimmune disorder that affects people of all ages and of all races. The exact cause of alopecia areata is unknown, however, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks its own hair follicles.

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Symptoms of Alopecia Areata

The main symptom of alopecia areata is patchy hair loss on the scalp, face and/or other parts of the body. The patches of hair loss may be round or oval in shape and range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. The hair loss can occur rapidly, within a few days or weeks, and can be accompanied by mild itching or burning.

Causes of Alopecia Areata

Although the exact cause of alopecia areata is not known, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks its own hair follicles. It may also be triggered by certain medications, stress, or an infection.

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Health Effects of Alopecia Areata

Although alopecia areata does not cause physical health problems, it is often associated with psychological health problems such as anxiety, depression, and social isolation. It is important to seek the support of a mental health professional if you are experiencing psychological distress due to alopecia areata.

Treatment Options for Alopecia Areata

There is no cure for alopecia areata, but there are a variety of treatments available to help slow or stop the progression of the disease. These include topical corticosteroids, topical immunotherapy, light therapy, intralesional steroid injections, and systemic medications. In some cases, surgery may be an option, such as hair transplants or scalp reduction.

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