What is alopecia?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the hair to fall out. The immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles (the part of your body that makes produces hair strands), resulting in hair loss. The loss of hair is not limited to the scalp - alopecia areata can cause hair loss on any part of the body.
With alopecia areata, there are two types of patterns in which the hair can fall out. The most common pattern is 'patchy hair loss', whereby the hair falls out in patchy clunks, mainly in and around the scalp region. The second pattern of hair fall is more severe - a full loss of hair all over the body.
Fortunately, for most suffers, alopecia areata is not permanent. It usually clears away after a certain amount of time (this varies from person to person), as the follicles eventually retain their ability to product hair. However, alopecia can be minimised by using certain treatments.
How is Alopecia Areata Treated?
Unfortunately, as with any hair loss condition, there is no cure for alopecia areata, however, there are some treatments, both medical and non-medial, that can help reduce the excessive hair shedding, and increase the rate of normal hair growth.
Here are the most commonly (and successfully) used treatments for alopecia areata:
- Medical treatments - Medical treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride, can be successfully used to treat various types of hair loss, however, there comes a risk when using such treatments for alopecia areata, specifically. Firstly, both minoxidil and, in particular, finasteride, come with the risk of negative side effects, some of which can be severe. Alopecia areata, in most cases, is not permanent, therefore risking such long term side effects is not advised. Secondly, minoxidil can cause excessive shedding, which is not idea for patients who are already prone to hair shedding.
- Keratinocyte Growth Factor - Keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) is a powerful, non-medical formula that has shown to be an effective treatment for hair loss. KGF is a vital endogenous meditator of hair follicle growth, development, and differentiation. KGF, also known as FGF7, can regulate the hair cells and help repair and maintain the follicles under severe stress conditions. In relation to alopecia, KGF helps reduce hair loss, and encourage hair growth.
- Ketoconazole Shampoo - Ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral) is designed to prevent dandruff and reduce scalp irritation, however it has also been found to help reduce hair loss, and support the function of normal hair growth. Using Nizoral shampoo 1-2 times a week, can help reduce excessive shedding.
- HR23+® Hair Supplement - Multivitamin supplements do not cure hair loss, however, they can help reduce hair fall, and promote the growth of hair. HR23+® is a safe and effective alternative to harsh prescription drugs, with no risk of negative side-effects or excess shedding phases. HR23+® can be a highly effective treatment for men and women suffering with alopecia areata.
How does alopecia areata differ to other types of hair loss?
There are various types of alopecia, some being temporary, and others being permanent. Here are the main alopecia types:
Androgenic Alopecia - male / female pattern baldness.
Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia - caused by destruction of hair follicles, replaced with scar tissue.
Chemotherapy Induced Alopecia - hair loss, as a result of chemotherapy treatment.
Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia - caused by destruction of hair follicles, replaced with scar tissue.
Lichen Planopilaris - caused by destruction of hair follicles, replaced with scar tissue.
Telogen Effluvium - hair loss due to excessive resting phase of hair.
Traction Alopecia - self inflicted damage to the hair.
Trichotillomania - self inflicted pulling of the hair.
Treating hair loss is a complex issue. For best results, it is important to know exactly what type of hair loss you are suffering with. Once you establish your type of hair loss, you will then be able to treat it effectively.