For Quick Alerts
For Daily Alerts

International Alopecia Day 2019: Everything You Need To Know About Alopecia (Hair Loss)

International Alopecia Day is observed on 3 August every year. Alopecia is a form of hair loss which happens when your immune system mistakenly views your hair follicles as a threat to your health. This results in your hair falling out, in large volumes. Alopecia is not specific to any area in your body, as it can affect your eyebrows, eyelashes, and face, as well as other parts of the body [1] .

The hair loss can be partial or complete, often causing complete baldness. Alopecia is not gender-centric and can affect anyone.

Types Of Alopecia

Hair loss is classified into different types and they are as follows [2] :

Androgenic alopecia: It is a common type of hair loss that affects both men and women although a bit common in men, giving its name male pattern baldness.

Alopecia areata: This type of hair loss is caused when the immune system of the body targets the hair follicles and disturbs the natural hair growth. Alopecia areata is often linked to other autoimmune conditions like ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo and allergic disorders.

Alopecia universalis: The most advanced type of alopecia, alopecia universalis causes total hair loss all over the body.

Alopecia totalis: This type of alopecia causes the hair loss on the scalp only and is considered a combination of alopecia areata and alopecia universalis.

Ophiasis: Under this type of alopecia, the loss of hair happens in a wave-like shape on the head.

Traction alopecia: This type of hair loss is caused by damage to the hair follicle and papilla from continuous tension.

Chignon alopecia: In this type of alopecia, the hair loss is centralised at the crown of the head and is commonly found in people who style their hair in a tight bundle for a long time.

Apart from these, the sub-types of alopecia are hypotrichosis, telogen effluvium, trichotillomania, lichen planopilaris, trichorrhexis nodosa and folliculitis [3] .

Causes Of Alopecia

The autoimmune condition can develop due to various reasons. Some of the most common triggers of alopecia are as follows [4] :

  • Systemic illness
  • Genetic tendency
  • Drugs
  • Acute illness
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress
  • Local skin disorder
  • Nutritional deficiency

Risk Factors Of Alopecia

Individuals who have the following conditions are at the risk of developing alopecia [5] .

  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitiligo
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Down Syndrome

Diagnosis Of Alopecia

In most cases, such as that of alopecia areata and alopecia totalis, the doctor will be able to diagnose the condition just by examining the extent of hair loss [6] .

A scalp biopsy may be carried out by the doctor, to rule out other hair loss causing conditions such as fungal infections.

Blood tests might be done if the doctor suspects an autoimmune condition [7] .

Treatment For Alopecia

The suitable treatment measure depends on several factors such as age, the amount of hair loss, and willingness to deal with treatments [8] .

Studies point out that there is no permanent cure for the condition. If the condition is not too severe, the most effective therapy is a series of corticosteroid injections into the bald patches. This will help suppress the immune reaction [9] .

Oral corticosteroids and immunotherapy are also possible treatment options.

One of the other major measure advised by doctors for individuals suffering from minor alopecia is a shift in diet. Avoid the consumption of processed foods, alcohol or sugar - anything that can increase and cause inflammation within your body [10] . Consume foods that can help ease the inflammation such as fruits and vegetables like blueberries, lean meats, nuts, seeds, broccoli etc.

View Article References
  1. [1] Lin, J., Saknite, I., Valdebran, M., Balu, M., Lentsch, G., Williams, J. N., ... & Atanaskova Mesinkovska, N. (2019). Feature characterization of scarring and non‐scarring types of alopecia by multiphoton microscopy.Lasers in surgery and medicine,51(1), 95-103.
  2. [2] Starace, M., Alessandrini, A., Brandi, N., & Piraccini, B. M. (2019). Preliminary results of the use of scalp microneedling in different types of alopecia.Journal of cosmetic dermatology.
  3. [3] Pratt, C. H., King Jr, L. E., Messenger, A. G., Christiano, A. M., & Sundberg, J. P. (2017). Alopecia areata.Nature Reviews Disease Primers,3, 17011.
  4. [4] Vañó-Galván, S., Saceda-Corralo, D., Blume-Peytavi, U., Cucchía, J., Dlova, N. C., Dias, M. F. R. G., ... & Holmes, S. (2019). Frequency of the Types of Alopecia at Twenty-Two Specialist Hair Clinics: A Multicenter Study.Skin Appendage Disorders, 1-7.
  5. [5] Karadağ Köse, Ö., & Güleç, A. T. (2015). Temporal triangular alopecia: significance of trichoscopy in differential diagnosis.Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology,29(8), 1621-1625.
  6. [6] Porriño‐Bustamante, M. L., López‐Nevot, M. Á., Aneiros‐Fernández, J., García‐Lora, E., Fernández‐Pugnaire, M. A., & Arias‐Santiago, S. (2019). Familial frontal fibrosing alopecia: A cross‐sectional study of 20 cases from nine families.Australasian Journal of Dermatology,60(2), e113-e118.
  7. [7] Mackay-Wiggan, J., Jabbari, A., Nguyen, N., Cerise, J. E., Clark, C., Ulerio, G., ... & Clynes, R. (2016). Oral ruxolitinib induces hair regrowth in patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata.JCI insight,1(15).
  8. [8] Zimmermann, J., Buhl, T., & Müller, M. (2017). Alopecia Universalis following Alemtuzumab Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis: A Barely Recognized Manifestation of Secondary Autoimmunity—Report of a Case and Review of the Literature.Frontiers in neurology,8, 569.
  9. [9] Gilhar, A., Schrum, A. G., Etzioni, A., Waldmann, H., & Paus, R. (2016). Alopecia areata: animal models illuminate autoimmune pathogenesis and novel immunotherapeutic strategies.Autoimmunity reviews,15(7), 726-735.
  10. [10] Craiglow, B. G., Liu, L. Y., & King, B. A. (2017). Tofacitinib for the treatment of alopecia areata and variants in adolescents.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,76(1), 29-32.
Read more about: alopecia hair loss
Story first published: Saturday, August 3, 2019, 6:00 [IST]