I created a post titled: Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Hair and Skin, so with this month being Alopecia Areata awareness month I thought I would explore a little bit further into the hair.
The Bible says: But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:15
Women I know this is so true to all of you. Your hair is a glory to you. And you will do almost anything you can to keep it looking shiny and healthy. Plus, I think it is amazing the new techniques that are being used to color the hair. Who wouldn’t want to give those techniques a try?
So many autoimmune disorders affect many organs of the body and then there are some that only affect one area, like our glorious hair.
Alopecia areata is a disease that affects the hair follicles, which are part of the skin from which hairs grow. When you have alopecia areata, in most cases, your hair may fall out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. Others with the disease may get only a few bare patches, and others may lose more hair. It is rare for this disorder to cause a total loss of hair on the head or complete loss of hair on the head, face, and body.
Who is Affected?
Anyone can have alopecia areata. It often begins in childhood. There is a slightly increased risk of having the disease if you have a close family member with the disease.
In fact, it affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. with a lifetime risk of 2.1%. People of all ages, both sexes and all ethnic groups can develop alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is known as a “polygenic disease.” This means that, unlike a single-gene disease, both parents must contribute a number of specific genes in order for a child to develop it. Because of this, most parents will not pass alopecia areata along to their children. With identical twins — who share all of the same genes — there’s only a 55% chance that if one has alopecia areata, the other will, too. This is why scientists believe that it takes more than just genetics to cause the disease and that other environmental factors also contribute to people developing alopecia areata.
This information is from https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. Normally the immune system protects the body against infection and disease. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks some part of your own body. In alopecia areata, the immune system attacks the hair follicles.
The cause is not known. Scientists think that a person’s genes may play a role. For people whose genes put them at risk for the disease, some type of trigger starts the attack on the hair follicles. The triggers may be a virus or something in the person’s environment.
Like other autoimmune disorders there is no cure for alopecia areata. There are no drugs approved to treat it. Doctors may use medicines approved for other diseases to help hair grow back such as:
Corticosteroids. These are anti-inflammatory drugs that are prescribed for autoimmune diseases. They can be given as an injection into the scalp or other areas. (Ouch!) They can also be given in pill form or rubbed on the skin as an ointment, cream, or foam. The downside is that it may take a long time to work.
Topical immunotherapy. This is used when there’s a lot of hair loss, or if it happens more than once. Chemicals are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction. If it works, this reaction is actually what makes the hair grow back. It also causes an itchy rash, and usually has to be repeated several times to keep the new hair growth.
Minoxidil (Rogaine). This treatment, which is put on the scalp, is already used for pattern baldness. It usually takes about 12 weeks before you see growth, and some users are disappointed in the results.
Other ways to treat alopecia areata
There are other things you can try if you have alopecia areata.
- Wear wigs, hats, or scarves. Talk about a fashion statement! You could wear a different wig, hat or scarf or a combination every day of the week. This would be one way to make living with this autoimmune disorder a more positive experience.
- Reduce stress. Stress and anxiety seem to trigger alopecia areata, although this has not been proven scientifically. We hear this with other autoimmune disorders as well. Stress is a terrible thing and it can do bad things to our body.
Alopecia areata isn’t usually a serious medical condition, but it can cause a lot of anxiety and sadness. Support groups are out there to help you deal with the psychological effects of the condition.
If you are living with Alopeica Areata, please share with us, in the comment section below, how you are successfully living with it. Tell us about any medications you have found to be or not to be helpful.
- Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Hair and Skin
- What to do Next When Diagnosed with an Autoimmune Disorder