There are many types of diagnosable hair loss in both men and women, among the most common being alopecia areata. This disease creates bald spots and thinning hair among people who wouldn’t normally expect to experience hair loss, and is often found in families with a history of alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a hair loss disease caused by an autoimmune reaction. An autoimmune response occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own cells and tissue; in the case of areata, the hair follicles.
This disruption of normal hair growth results in thinning hair, bald patches, and rapid hair loss. It’s not the same as male or female pattern baldness, because the disease doesn’t destroy or render hair follicles (the structures that produce hair shafts) inoperable, but rather makes it harder for them to create strong, resilient hairs throughout the scalp. This means that alopecia areata can come and go over time, but rarely results in gradual, permanent baldness.
The people most at risk for developing alopecia areata during their lifetime are those who have blood relatives with the disease. Other risk factors for alopecia areata include people with specific allergies, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, or health conditions like thyroid diseases.
One of the telling signs that hair loss is caused by alopecia areata is when it occurs before age 30. Many patients develop alopecia areata during their teenage years or shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately, alopecia areata cannot be cured, but it is possible to regrow hairs with or without treatment. For people who don’t seem to be regrowing hair on their own, medical treatments such as topical or injected corticosteroids can help re-stimulate hair growth, although this doesn’t mean it will prevent hair loss from happening again in the future.
By coming in for an examination by a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Travis Hamblin, you can be sure of your diagnosis and therefore your most likely course of long-lasting hair restoration through one of several types of treatments. In most cases you will need to return at least every so often for re-treatment or just to check up on your hair health, but in other cases, you may be able to manage your alopecia areata on your own.
If you’re under 30 and have suddenly noticed your hair thinning or falling out more rapidly than ever, it may be caused by alopecia areata. To find out what’s causing your hair loss and to get a personalized treatment plan to protect and re-grow your hair for the long term, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Hamblin today. Our team is here to help you live your fullest life with your fullest head (or face) of hair.