Patchy hair loss, also known as alopecia areata is diseases that cause hair fall in patches. The primary cause of this condition is the immune system that starts attacking the hair follicles. This condition may arise suddenly and hair loss may become visible on hair and other parts of the body. In rare cases, people might see complete hair loss, a condition which is referred to as alopecia universalis. At present there is no complete cure available for this condition, however, patchy hair loss treatment can help individuals growing back their hair.
Symptoms of Alopecia Areata
The primary symptom of this condition is hair loss. The person suffering from it finds hair loss on the scalp in round patches. The size of these patches may vary from several millimeters to a centimeter or more. Along with scalp, the person might also experience hair loss in other parts of the body.
At the early phases, a person will start noticing a clump of hair falling on the pillow or cloth. However, this symptom is not specific to patchy hair loss, it can also occur for other hair loss condition too. Due to this reason, it is best to consult a physician to identify the condition once you start noticing the mentioned symptom.
There are two variants of patchy hair loss, namely, alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis. The alopecia totalis is a complete hair loss on the scalp. On the other hand, alopecia universalis is a condition in which hair is lost from the entire body.
In patchy hair loss, there is no fixed pattern of hair loss progression and it may occur quite randomly and unpredictably. As a result, the size and area of the patches may vary from one person to another.
It is a form of autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakes the body’s cell and starts attacking it. In this case, the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which are the structure that allows the hair to grow. Through this immune system attack, the hair follicles become progressively smaller and eventually stop producing hair.
The scientists are still trying to find the reason that begins the immune system attack in the first place. Therefore, the exact cause of this problem is not known but it is speculated that genetics might have a role.
Before the patchy hair loss treatment begins, the patient has to undergo one or more diagnostic test to determine whether the condition is alopecia areata or something else. The doctor may examine your hair under the microscope and may also do a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions. You may also have to do a blood test if there are chances of the presence of other autoimmune diseases.
Although there is no cure for alopecia areata, the patchy hair loss treatment can help the person in stopping further hair loss and also regaining the lost hair. The treatment is done by prescribing medications like minoxidil. In other cases, an individual might be given steroid injections or ointments. The doctor may also suggest photochemotherapy, which is a form of radiation treatment.