Alopecia means bald and areata means patch; put them together and you have alopecia areata, which is a condition that results in hair loss, usually in patches about the size of a quarter—though there are different forms of alopecia that can result in all-over thinning of your hair or hair loss all over your body. More than 6.5 million people in the United States have alopecia areata.
At kalon Dermatology, we offer treatment for all different types of hair loss, including alopecia areata. Our highly trained experts understand how hair loss can affect you physically and emotionally, and we work with you to find a treatment that works in the context of your life.
Your immune system is amazing. It works in the background, healing your injuries, preventing viruses and bacteria from making you sick, and generally not getting the recognition it deserves.
However, if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system is malfunctioning. Alopecia areata is a type of autoimmune disease in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out.
This means that you’re not losing your hair because of anything you’ve done — your immune system is just confused. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t discovered a way to fix it. There’s no cure for alopecia areata.
Anyone can develop alopecia areata, but a few things seem to make it more likely, including:
Usually, alopecia areata develops by the time you’re 30 years old. In other words, it would be unlikely to develop the first symptoms when you are 43.
One bit of good news is that, unlike most other autoimmune disorders, alopecia areata doesn’t make you feel physically uncomfortable or lead to disability. You may experience emotional distress due to hair loss, though.
Some people experience spontaneous hair regrowth, but alopecia areata is unpredictable. You may regrow some hair but lose hair in a different area.
Also, not all treatments work well for everyone, and sometimes it takes some trial and error to find what works for you. Essentially, we have two goals when it comes to treating alopecia areata: to stop your immune system from continuing to attack hair follicles and to stimulate attacked follicles to grow hair again.
In some cases, applying a corticosteroid cream once or twice a day can help you regrow hair. This is a common treatment for children. Another treatment is minoxidil, which is sold under the brand name Rogaine®.
Injections of corticosteroids are sometimes more effective than a topical cream, and sometimes a medication called anthralin is combined with using minoxidil.
A relatively new class of medication called JAK inhibitors may help people with alopecia areata. Tofacitinib, ruxolitinib, and baricitinib are three such medications that have been investigated for use in treating alopecia areata. One issue with JAK inhibitors is that they only work as long as you continue taking the medication.
If you have noticed hair loss, the best thing you can do is talk to an expert. Understanding why you’re losing hair is the first step in treating the problem. Schedule your appointment at kalon Dermatology today by calling or using our online booking tool.