What is Alopecia?

February 27, 2021

Hair is an integral part of human makeup that requires care and nurture. And the fact that it is among the first noticeable features, people often go the extra mile to keep their hair in healthy conditions.

When you lose your hair to illnesses or the styles and treatment you apply to it, this can be quite understandable. But when your immune system is the culprit behind the loss of your mane (or the hair in other parts of your body), it becomes puzzling.


What is the condition?

Alopecia is a hair condition that occurs when the immune system hampers hair follicles on different body parts. This condition causes the hair to fall out in small, sometimes unnoticeable areas on the scalp. On some other occasions, this hair loss can occur in bulkier masses or all over the scalp, leading to a complete loss of hair.


What Causes Alopecia?

This disorder occurs when the immune system misfires on hair follicles. This attack causes hair follicles to get weakened, shrunk, and unable to sustain hair growth.

The immune system is the body’s defense against attacks. But autoimmune health conditions occur when the immune system confuses healthy body cells for harmful bacteria and viruses and proceeds to attack them.

So far, no research has revealed any root cause of alopecia. But this autoimmune disorder is more common among people who have a history of other autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and type1 diabetes.


What are the Symptoms of Alopecia?

The most significant symptom of alopecia is hair loss. This hairlessness can either occur in tiny patches on the scalp or in several connected areas.

The symptom of alopecia is not limited to the hair on the scalp alone. You could also lose hair on your eyebrows, arms, face, and lashes. And while some may lose hair on only one part of their body, others may be missing several strands of hair on different body parts.


What Are the Types of Alopecia?

There are five types of alopecia associated with the body’s autoimmune response on the hair follicles:

Alopecia Universalis

People with this variety of alopecia experience hair loss in several parts of their bodies. From their scalp to their face, eyebrow, chest, and pubic area, people who suffer from alopecia universalis lose hair in nearly every part of their body.


Alopecia Totalis

Contrary to hair loss in patches, alopecia totalis is characterized by hair loss all over the scalp.


Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata occurs when hair loss in its sufferer occurs in small patches. Sometimes, these patches can connect or expand to cause a complete loss of hair.


Ophiasis Alopecia

This type of alopecia is associated with a receding hairline and can spread to other scalp areas.


Diffuse Alopecia Areata

Just as its name suggests, this case of alopecia occurs when there is a general thinning of hair strands across the scalp.


Are There Any Treatments for This Condition?

Yes. Several kinds of treatment can be used to improve alopecia. Some of these treatments may need to be repeated often and can take some time to produce results.

Natural treatments like aromatherapy, onion juice, vitamins, and essential oils can be used to restore hair growth.

Oral Medications: Immunosuppressants, like cyclosporine, can be taken orally to suppress the body’s immune responses, and reduce the symptoms of alopecia. But there are unpleasant side effects to this method as your body will be open to invasions.


Steroid Injections

Topical treatment includes the use of over-the-counter creams like clobetasol and minoxidil.