Table of Contents
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder coupled by inflammation of the hair follicles resulting in clumping of hair and falling out leaving round hairless patches on the areas affected (Brzezińska-Wcisło et al. 262-265). The autoimmune disorder that causes alopecia areata is caused by mistaken identification of hair follicles as foreign invaders in the body by immune system that is designed to protect the body against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. The attack of hair follicles by the immunologic cells of the immune system is usually localized to small areas of the scalp resulting in small round patches (Gilhar, Etzioni and Paus 1515-1525). In alopecia areata, the disease cause is not established but the prognostic factors consist of the bald patches on the parts affected persisting for over a year and involving the nails despite the treatment of symptoms experienced by the patients (Brzezińska-Wcisło et al. 262-265).
Signs and symptoms
The typical signs and symptoms of alopecia areata include evidently small round or oval bald patches whereby the underlying skin of the affected region is unscarred and from the look of the skin it appears normal. Other signs and symptoms of alopecia areata include tingly feeling at the regions that have been affected mainly due to inflammatory reactions caused by response of the immune system to the hair follicles (Brzezińska-Wcisło et al. 262-265). In the regions where the follicles have already been destroyed by the immunological cells, the tugs of hair are easily plugged out. Upon examination of the strands of hair pulled out from the patches, the strand narrows towards the base at the point attached to the scalp indicating destruction of the hair follicles. In instances whereby the nails are affected, the nails usually manifest pitting along the edges due to the immunological reaction to the follicles along the edges of the nails.
The treatment approach to alopecia areata involves the application of topical corticosteroids on the affected regions of the scalp. Apart from application of topical corticosteroids on the affected areas, injection of corticosteroids on the skin or scalp is also used to minimize hair loss due to alopecia areata (Gilhar, Etzioni and Paus 1515-1525). The use of corticosteroids is undertaken in the management of alopecia areata to induce remission and also to reduce hair loss due to the destruction of hair loss that are considered by the immune system as invaders (Gilhar, Etzioni and Paus 1515-1525). Other symptom management strategies that can be used include wearing hair patches on the affected regions that could be human or synthetic hair. Lastly, dyeing the scalp is also effective in concealing the patches for the time being because hair will grow after a year.
The prognosis of alopecia areata involving small patches on the scalp, hair grows on the patches within a year without any immunotherapeutic procedures undertaken but in case of extensive patches, it progresses to alopecia areata totalis which is loss of all the hair on the scalp (Brzezińska-Wcisło et al. 262-265). Finally, alopecia areata impacts upon the self esteem of the individual mainly due to impairment of self image that is related to total hair loss.
- Brzezińska-Wcisło, Ligia et al. “New Aspects Of The Treatment Of Alopecia Areata”. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology 4 (2014): 262-265. Print.
- Gilhar, Amos, Amos Etzioni, and Ralf Paus. “Alopecia Areata”. New England Journal of Medicine 366.16 (2012): 1515-1525. Print.