Alopecia is the medical term used for balding and/or thinning on your head or other parts of the body. Alopecia Areata is a patchy sudden loss of hair in one particular area, which grows back after several months. The most common presentation would be a 2 cm asymptomatic, non-itchy and non-scaly bald patch on the scalp. Often times the patch is noticed by a hairdresser. A less common pattern of alopecia areata is widespread hair loss all over the head (alopecia totalis). Rarely, all the body hair is suddenly lost, regrowth may not occur (alopecia universalis).
Alopecia may be further subdivided into diffuse alopecia, in which hair loss occurs throughout the scalp, and focal alopecia, with distinct areas of localized hair loss or bald spots. Another important distinction to be made is whether a scarring or non-scarring process has occurred. In scarring hair loss, inflammation within the scalp has lead to destruction of hair follicles. In these situations, therapy is directed towards preventing further hair loss, as areas of the scalp already affected are not likely to show significant re-growth. In patients with non-scarring alopecia, hair follicles are still present, and therapy is geared towards re-growth of lost hair.
The cause of alopecia areata is unknown, though it is known to be an autoimmune disease where antibodies attack the hair follicle triggering the hair to fall out. Some individuals relate a very stressful situation in their life as a trigger for the hair loss. But many and most people have no stressful trigger. Fortunately, the process does not lead to scarring and the hair can grow back. Frequently the hair grows back without any treatment.
Treatment of Alopecia Areata
- Topical Corticosteroids
- Corticosteroid injections