Pathology

An overview of alopecia



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When people suffer from an autoimmune disorder, the chances of hair loss increase manifold. Alopecia is a type of condition in which the person loses excessive hair because the immune system starts attacking the hair follicles.

Hair follicles are the points on the scalp from where hair starts growing. Hair follicle may not be damaged permanently. Medical science may have advanced immensely but the exact cause of this phenomenon is not yet known. Both men and women are susceptible to alopecia. Alopecia may affect people of any age, including children and young adults.

When a person is diagnosed with alopecia areata, the person generally witnesses excessive hair fall. In this case, the person loses clumps of hair from the scalp. As a result, round and smooth patches that are totally devoid of hair are developed on the patient’s scalp.

In some patients, hairless patches may not be developed but the patient may witness thinning of hair throughout one’s scalp. In quite a few cases, patients witness complete loss of hair from the scalp and body. Then, there are cases wherein the patient witnesses hair loss in one area and hair growth in another area.

When there are patches of hair loss in a patient suffering from alopecia, the hair would normally grow within a considerable duration of time, that is, the hair may regrow within 6 months to 1 year. In some cases, the patient may witness normal hair growth. However, there are instances in which the hair strands that grow again are fine and white in color.

In approximately 10% of cases, the patient will never ever witness hair regrowth. The probability of permanent hair loss is quite high when the patient has a family history of alopecia. Alopecia tends to be permanent when the condition is developed at a young age, that is, before the onset of puberty.

Alopecia may also cause permanent hair loss if it persists for more than one year. The chance of permanent hair loss is also seen in patients suffering from autoimmune disorders such as diabetes and lupus. Patients who are allergic also witness alopecia. Hair loss may make a person feel unattractive and unappealing.

In some cases, people suffering from alopecia will develop pitted nails. In other words, there will be innumerable tiny dents across the nails of these patients. These nails may also resemble sandpaper. Alopecia is a condition that cannot be cured completely. Nevertheless, this condition can be treated with advancements in medical technology. In general, patients suffering from a single episode of alopecia would also suffer from several episodes of hair loss.

Alopecia is generally diagnosed through physical and medical examination of the patient. Doctors will examine the scalp and determine the pattern of hair loss in patients. They may also ask patients to undergo a battery of tests to determine the cause of hair loss. Doctors would recommend routine tests such as hair analysis and thyroid tests. Quite a few times, patients with underactive or overactive thyroid witness such kind of hair loss.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/tc/alopecia-areata-topic-overview
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.medicinenet.com/alopecia_areata/article.htm#what_is_alopecia_areata
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hair-loss/Pages/Introduction.aspx