Alopecia areata is the medical term for patchy hair loss. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system allows the hair follicles to go into a dormant state. This in turn causes the hair to eventually fall out. The number of patches can vary from one to many and even to complete hair loss. The patches usually appear on the top of the head and the base of the beard, but can occur on eyebrows, eyelashes and other body hair.
There are three stages of Alopecia areata
- Alopecia areata - patchy hair loss
- Alopecia totalis - Absence of head hair
- Alopecia universalis - Total loss of body hair
Causes of Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing the hair to stop producing new cells. The disease is also linked to a certain heredity but can also occur during severe psychological stress. However, there is not yet a known cause of the disease.
It often starts as a bald spot the size of a dime on the scalp. This patch may grow larger, stagnate or grow out. It is difficult to know how long the condition will last and how extensive it will be as it varies from case to case. In some cases it is permanent and in others the hair follicles resume production and new hairs grow.
A minority of 10% lose all their hair. Hair loss is something that most commonly affects children or young people. Around 60% of people with alopecia areata develop the condition before the age of 20. But it can also affect people at an older age.
Alopecia areata is not physically harmful and there is no increased risk of other diseases.
Treatment for Alopecia areata
Unfortunately, there is currently no proven treatment for alopecia areata. However, it should be remembered that the hair follicles are not permanently damaged, but merely dormant. There is no effective way to bring them out of dormancy and start forming new hairs. This is what a PRP treatment as it can trigger the hair follicles to start producing hair again. You can also try cortisone creams to promote hair growth, but the results are very variable. Read more about Facts about hair loss for more information on the subject and the different treatments available.