Alopecia Areata

Hillcrest Hair Loss Dermatology CareHair loss in both men and women can rob even the strongest, most confident people of their sense of dignity and self-worth. But not all hair loss is the same. As such, if you’re dealing with any type of it, you want to talk to medical professionals who are experts in diagnosing and treating different types of thinning hair.

For those suffering from alopecia areata, West Dermatology in Arizona, Nevada, and California has the expert staff you can trust to treat your particular condition. With multiple locations throughout the southwestern United States, including Hillcrest, Yuma, Newport Beach, and more, West Dermatology has been serving families like yours for over 60 years. Contact us today to learn about possible ways to treat or manage hair loss through our advanced dermatology treatments.

Alopecia Areata – A Different Type of Hair Loss

The word “alopecia” means hair loss, but alopecia areata is not just gradual hair loss or thinning hair. This is a medical condition of patchy hair loss on the scalp or body, meaning that the hair falls out in round patches. It affects about 4 million Americans.

Alopecia areata can be unpredictable. You may experience both hair loss and hair growth or regrowth. Your hair may improve as time passes, even to the point of outright full regrowth. Some cases have lasted decades, while others vanished after several months. For an unfortunate few, it may actually get worse and lead to total baldness.

Alopecia Areata Causes

First of all, don’t fall for any of the myths surrounding this condition. It’s neither contagious nor the result of stress. Second, it can occur in people who are otherwise in great health.

Incidences of alopecia areata occur because of a problem with your immune system that causes it to attack your hair follicles, which fall out as a result. It’s not currently known why this happens. Because many who suffer from alopecia areata also have a family member with the disease, it’s thought that your genetic makeup can contribute to the condition, though it’s still unclear.

However, what is known is that it can happen to anyone of any age. For many people, it starts during childhood. Young women are also among those that seem to be the most susceptible to the onset of the disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia Areata

Any one or a combination of the following may signify that you have alopecia areata:

Patchy Hair Loss

If you wake up one morning and see a clump or clumps of hair on your pillow, or if you see a clump or clumps of your hair fall out while showering, then you may have alopecia areata. When you look in the mirror, you might see one or more round, smooth patches of bare skin the size of a quarter. Under this condition, most loss of hair occurs on your scalp, though it can strike anywhere you normally have hair – eyebrows, torsos, and even beards.

Nail Problems

Often a first sign that you have the condition, your fingernails or toenails can change in appearance. Look for the following abnormalities:

  • Tiny dents or depressions
  • White spots or lines
  • Dullness in color and shine
  • Rough instead of smooth consistency
  • Thinning of the nail
  • Splitting or breakage
  • Shape change

Widespread Hair Loss

Over time, the patchy loss of hair becomes widespread, sometimes resulting in total baldness or even total loss of hair on the body, though neither is very common.

“Exclamation Mark” Hairs

Often, at the edges of your bare spot(s), or even right in the middle, a few short hairs may be left standing. They’re referred to as “exclamation mark” hairs because these hairs usually narrow at the bottom, much like the actual punctuation is often depicted.

Alopecia Treatment and Management

Although the exceptional medical dermatology staff at West Dermatology could diagnose your condition by simply looking at your hair loss, they most likely will give you a close scalp examination and perhaps take a small biopsy to determine your precise condition and its extent. It’s also possible that you’ll have blood work done to see if you have any other issues with your immune system.

The type of treatment will be prescribed based on their findings, although admittedly there is no known outright cure. However, treatment can help the hair to grow back more quickly.

A combination of one or more of the following treatment options is prescribed for better, quicker results.

  • Corticosteroid injections, pills, or topicals to suppress your immune system.
  • Minoxidil over the counter is available, but often, prescription strength is more effective.
  • Anthralin is a thick application of the medication to your skin, the purpose of which is to disrupt your immune system and stimulate hair growth.
  • Diphencyprone (DPCP), when applied to bare skin, causes a small allergic disturbance that seems to “dupe” the immune system into reacting differently, causing your hair to stop falling out and start growing back.

Sometimes, the only option is to manage your condition, although this obviously doesn’t do much to reduce existing bald patches. Many patients style their hair to cover up their patchy bare spots, or they wear a hat, a wig, or a scarf. Some brave souls decide to simply shave their heads and get on with their lives. For people with hair loss on their eyebrows, makeup does the trick. Your treatment is tailored to your unique needs, so don’t hesitate to contact West Dermatology to find out more.

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How is Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis Different?

Basically, the difference between alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis is how much hair loss is experienced over a specific area. In alopecia areata, loss of hair is localized, restricted to patchy loss. With alopecia totalis, your entire scalp is bald. If you are hairless all over your body, you’re dealing with alopecia universalis.

Talk to West Dermatology about Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is not life-threatening, but it can disrupt your social life and affect you psychologically. If you suspect that you may have this condition or any other kind of hair loss, don’t let it go untreated. Treatment options are available to you, regardless of your particular pattern or condition. Contact West Dermatology today in Arizona, Nevada, and California for a consultation.

Next, read about Brown Age Spots Treatment.