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Nov
10
Alopecia Areata – What is it?

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Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease of uncertain aetiology (4). However, it is known that genetic predisposition and environmental factors contribute to the onset of hair loss (4). Hair follicles are immune-privileged sites – able to tolerate the introduction of antigens without an inflammatory response (2).

Recent studies have shown alopecia areata can only occur if hair follicles immune privilege is compromised (4). Resulting in the of the hair follicles being targeted by T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that destroys cells that have become defective) (2).

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Figure 1: Break down of hair follicles immune privilege in alopecia areata (6).

Alopecia areata occurs in individuals that are genetically predisposed to it. The areas most susceptible to AA are the scalp and beard and eyebrows (5).

Alopecia Areata Symptoms

The most common and prominent symptom of AA is 'patchy' hair loss, where coin-sized patches of hair begin to fall out. Hair loss can be sudden, in most cases appearing over the course of a few days but it can take place over a period of several weeks (4).

Hair loss caused by alopecia areata does not result in the hair follicles being destroyed or damaged beyond repair (6). The areas affected by hair loss can recover if the inflammation of the follicles diminish (1). In some cases, individuals that have just a few patches of hair loss can have a full recovery without any form of treatment (6).\

Can it be Cured?

No, unfortunately, there is no cure for alopecia areata. In most cases depending on the extent of hair loss, individuals that have just a few patches of hair loss can have a full recovery within 1 year with out any medical intervention whatsoever. (6).

However, it is important to note that there may be relapses of AA episodes in the future. Furthermore, if the hair loss experienced at first is extensive, that is, losing half or more hair, the chances of regrowing hair is greatly diminished.

Can Alopecia Areata Be Treated?

As mentioned earlier, individuals suffering from mild onset of alopecia areata might not need any medical intervention. However, in some cases, medical professionals like dermatologists may suggest some treatment options to induce hair growth. Though, it should be noted that no treatment currently available can alter the overall course of the disease. Additionally, any treatments that carry any adverse effect or serious risks should be avoided, as AA itself has no negative effect on physical health.

Some treatments that are available at the time of writing this article include:

Intralesional Corticosteroid Injections

This treatment method is the most common form of treatment for alopecia areata. The treatment consists of the injection of corticosteroids every four to six weeks in bare patches of skin by a small needle which is usually performed by a dermatologist (5).

Benefits

If successful, new hair growth can be visible within four weeks (5).

Drawbacks

Like all treatments for alopecia areata, Corticosteroid injections do not prevent further hair loss. While there are few, known/reported side effects related to this treatment, temporary depressions in the skin may occur as a result of the injections (5). It is important to note that the potential long-term side effects of using this treatment has not been realized

Topical Minoxidil

This is an active ingredient in products such as Rogaine. This is used to treat hair loss in both men and women. The cream/foam is applied 1-2 times a day to help stimulate hair growth on the scalp or any other areas. The relative effectiveness of this topical treatment can differ depending on the strength of the medication (2% or 5%) (5). This treatment is unique because Minoxidil alone is not usually effective. However, when used in conjunction with corticosteroid medications, some individuals see positive results (5).

Benefits

If an individuals hair grows back completely after using this treatment method the treatment regiment can be stopped (5).

Drawbacks

Some side effects include dizziness, drowsiness and fatigue. These are normally the result of the body absorbing too much of the chemical compound. If you notice any side effects, including the ones mentioned above if you experience any side effects call your healthcare professional.

Ultraviolet Light Treatment or PUVA

This treatment involves the taking a tablet or applying a cream that makes skin sensitive to UV light. Areas that are effected by AA are exposed to UV light 2-3 times/week over the course of several months (1).

Benefits

These treatments are very effective in stopping the progression of hair loss (1). If you are fortunate to catch it in its early stages this treatment can prevent further loss in approximately 90% of patients. Furthermore, these treatments can result in the re-growth of hair in the effected areas in approximately 50% of patients (this varies depending on the individuals) (1).

Drawbacks

Once the treatment is stopped, it is common for the individual to suffer a relapse of AA. Additionally this method of treatment has not undergone long-term trials (1). Because of this, undergoing this method of treatment may also pose a long-term risk of developing skin cancers (1).

What is Scalp Micropigmentation?

Scalp micropigmentation is the fastest growing solution in the history of hair loss prevention – that is a fact. From thinning hair and male pattern baldness to scarring and the various forms of alopecia, scalp micropigmentation is the only solution that provides results.

In just the last decade, the industry has grown from zero to over 1500 technicians worldwide. With more than 150,000 men and women now thought to have had the procedure, the industry is experiencing an unprecedented rate of growth.

At Gerow Hair Ink we've always said that we love what we do and that seeing our clients happy was our only satisfaction. When we started on this journey, scalp micropigmentation was a grass roots movement.

We were committed to make hair loss a thing of the past and provide both Men & Women with a better option that didn't involve invasive and in most cases damaging surgery.

Resources:

  1. British Association of Dermatologists – Alopecia Areata. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.bad.org.uk/shared/get-file.ashx?id=68&itemtype=document
  2. McElwee KJ, Gilhar A, Tobin DJ, et al. What causes alopecia areata?. Exp Dermatol. 2013;22(9):609-26.
  3. Perfil, V. (2018). Alopecia Areata com Régia Petterle.. [online] Regiapetterle.com. Available at: http://www.regiapetterle.com/2018/06/alopecia-areata-com-regia-petterle.html [Accessed 6 Nov. 2018].
  4. Qi J, Garza LA. An overview of alopecias. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2014;4(3):10.1101/cshperspect.a013615 a013615. Published 2014 Mar 1. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a013615
  5. Strazzulla, L., Wang, E., Avila, L., Lo Sicco, K., Brinster, N., Christiano, A., & Shapiro, J. (2018). Alopecia areata. Journal Of The American Academy Of Dermatology, 78(1), 15-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.04.1142
  6. University of Illinois-Chicago, S. (2017). Alopecia areata: Causes, symptoms, and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/70956.php