What are the symptoms of alopecia areata?
It may start as button-sized patches of hair loss, sometimes found in clumps. Mostly on the scalp, but may occur elsewhere, with varying size patches. Hairs on thinning spots get narrower towards the bottom. More uncommon is widespread hair loss, over the body.
Fingernails or toenails changes can be a sign: very small pits, white lines or spots, that become thin/brittle and easily damaged or split. They may be rough or have lost shine.
What causes alopecia areata?
Any age range can experience alopecia areata, and often begins in childhood. There is a hereditary component, and family members may have the condition. It is an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system attacks its own hair follicles. Patients with this condition may have an increased risk for other autoimmune diseases, for example vitiligo, type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease, asthma and allergies, mainly atopic dermatitis (eczema)/
Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of alopecia areata:
How is it diagnosed?
Hairs may be pulled out and skin biopsies performed, and blood tests may be necessary to confirm the condition.
How do dermatologists treat alopecia areata?
- There is no cure, but hair often regrows, and treatment can help it grow quicker.
- Corticosteroids: This medicine suppresses the immune system, given as shots at the hair loss sight, pill, or topical form.
- Minoxidil: A hair regrowth medicine applied to scalp.
- Anthralin: This medicine changes the immune function of the skin.
- Diphencyprone (DPCP): This medicine is applied to the skin at the site of hair loss.