There are many types of medical conditions that can result in hair loss in both men and women. One of the most common conditions is known as alopecia areata, and it affects more than five million people in the United States.
Alopecia areata is caused when your immune system attacks your hair follicles, causing the hair to die and fall out. The condition mainly affects individuals under the age of 20, although children and adults, both male and female, can also be affected. Hair typically falls out in small patches and often grows back after a few months. However, there are also risks of permanent hair loss in about 10 percent of the people who suffer from alopecia.
Possible Causes of Alopecia Areata
Experts currently do not know exactly what it is that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles. However, the condition often shows up in people who already have other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Genetics may also play a part in who is affected by the diseases.
Types of Alopecia Areata
There are a few different variations of this autoimmune disease. Scarring alopecia is caused due to an inflammation of the hair follicles, which can result in permanent damage. Male pattern baldness is also a type, resulting in the typical balding pattern. Female pattern baldness affects women in much the same way and is more common in women who are in menopause.
Risks of Permanent Hair Loss
If you suffer from alopecia, you may be at an increased risk of permanent hair loss if other members of your immediate family also already have the condition. Additional criteria affecting hair loss and growth include how early in age you are affected by the disease, if you have other autoimmune diseases, if you have allergies and if the hair loss is especially extensive.
How to Tell if You Have Alopecia Areata: Some of the more common symptoms, in addition to hair loss, include fingernails and toenails that appear pitted or take on the look and feel of fine sandpaper. However, in order to ensure that you are properly diagnosed, you should see your physician. Your doctor will perform an analysis of your hair and also perform a blood test.
Is There a Cure for Alopecia?
Currently, there is no cure for alopecia. However, there are a variety of treatments that may help to alleviate some of the symptoms. Speak to your physician about possible treatments.
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