Alopecia areta is a hair-loss disorder caused when the immune system attacks the body's hair-growing cells. Though the specific reason is not known, there are many options available for alopecia treatment, which we will discuss below.
The mechanism and underlying cause of alopecia areta remains unknown, but we do know that it is caused when white blood cells begin to attack the hair follicles in the scalp and/or other parts of the body where there is hair, including the nostrils, eyelids and underarms. Hair follicles under attack shrink in size, causing them to decrease or cease hair production. For some people, hair loss is confined to the scalp, and is characterized by quarter-sized patches of loss. Other people suffer from complete hair loss on the head, or total hair loss on the entire body. Fortunately for the 4 million Americans who suffer from alopecia areta, the hair follicle is not permanently damaged, and always retains the potential to regrow hair. Several alopecia treatment options are available to stimulate the follicles.
Though there are no physically painful effects from alopecia areta, the disease may cause extensive emotional and social symptoms. Alopecia symptoms include decreased confidence, diminished mood and social interaction, or even depression. These effects are further magnified by the unpredictable nature of alopecia areta:
As the mechanism for alopecia areta is not fully understood, there is no prevention for it. Though a person who has relatives with alopecia areta (or other autoimmune diseases) may have a slightly higher chance of developing the disease, there does not appear to be a strong genetic link. Since there is no prevention for this disease, alopecia treatment is vital to those who suffer from it.
Alopecia treatment options are numerous, though the potential dangers of some may outweigh the benefits. Furthermore, there is no drug or cure that has achieved approval specifically for treating alopecia areta, though some prescription drugs have shown some benefit for sufferers.
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