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In this video we discuss Alopecia Areata – everything you need to know. Learn how to spot it, what causes it, and how to treat it. Watch the full video to learn everything you need to know about this unfortunate condition.
Hey guys Leon here from Hairguard.com, where people who are worried about their hair loss go to regrow their hair. Today we will be discussing alopecia areata, which is a hair loss condition where people typically develop small bald patches on the scalp. But alopecia areata can come in many different forms, including one where all your hair goes white, sometimes overnight. Stay tuned to find out more.
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Now without any further delay let’s dive straight into it: what is alopecia areata? It is a type of hair loss. Alopecia is a blanket term that literally means baldness, and areata defines this boldness as affecting a circumscribed area or patch on the head. Unlike the more common male pattern baldness, the bald spots of alopecia areata can develop anywhere on the head: the top, the crown, the occipital area – you name it. The size of these bald spots can vary dramatically, from tiny ones that are a few millimeters wide to massive ones that cover most of your head.
Two out of every one hundred people will develop alopecia areata at some point in their lives, and it affects both men and women, adults and children of all races. But it does tend to affect younger people more, as more than two thirds of sufferers are under 30 years of age. People with this condition are more likely than the average person to have autoimmune disorders such as lupus, vitiligo and autoimmune thyroid disease.
Now alopecia areata comes in many forms. The most common is classical alopecia areata, with the small, clearly defined bald patches that we were talking about. In another form of alopecia areata called the diffuse form, no clear bald patches develop, but instead the entire scalp thins out. When the scalp goes completely bald this is called alopecia areata totalis. Taking things one step further, all the hairs on the body might fall off; and I do mean every single hair. When this happens it is called alopecia areata universalis. Then there are some really weird forms of this disease, such as so called “overnight graying”, which happens to people that already have some white hair on their scalp. In overnight graying the pigmented hairs of the scalp all fall off, leaving only the white hairs intact. This leaves one with a completely white set of hair, and can happen literally within the space of a few days.
Now diagnosing alopecia areata is relatively straightfoward. Unlike the more common male or female pattern baldness, alopecia areata usually develops very rapidly, in the space of a few months or weeks. Also the pattern of hair loss, particularly the small bald patches that can appear anywhere on the scalp, is very different in alopecia areata compared to common baldness. There are also other tell-tale signs of alopecia areata that are not usually present in male or female pattern baldness. One is the presence of so called “exclamation point hairs” : these are hairs that are actually thicker at the tip than at the base. Another tell-tale sign is nail pitting, which is when the nails develop small indentations.
So if you are concerned that you have alopecia areata, a doctor will normally be able to very quickly confirm if this is the case, without the need for a biopsy or any sort of lab tests.
What causes alopecia areata?
Scientists are not clear about what causes alopecia areata but, it is probably an autoimmune condition. For reasons that are not understood, the body’s immune cells attack the hair follicles, and primarily those that are in the anagen, or growth phase, of the hair cycle. The attack inflames the follicles and causes them to prematurely end their growth phase. This process leaves the majority of follicles in the affected areas of the scalp in the regression and resting phases of their cycle, leading to increased shedding and ultimately baldness.
There is a genetic component to this condition, meaning that you are more likely to have it if another family member already has it. Scientists have actually identified genes on at least three different chromosomes that make a person susceptible to alopecia areata.
This video is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease.