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Alopecia Areata
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Alopecia Areata - an Overview

A sudden patchy loss of hair may be due to the condition known as Alopecia Areata. This condition is relatively common, and as many as 1 in 1,000 people may suffer from it at some time. The cause is unknown and occasionally it becomes very widespread and severe.

The causes can be numerous, but the good news is that it is many times due to an imbalance in the person's system, which if rectified, will result in complete regrowth of hair. An effective set of blood tests is necessary to reveal any imbalances. Some of the most common causes are medications, pregnancy, birth control pills, thyroid malfunctions, anemia, syphilis, and arthritis. Whatever the cause may be, the body's response is to initiate an autoimmune response, whereby the body perceives the follicles as foreign objects, and attempts to reject them from the system. A careful review of your medical history and the bloodwork we outline below should help identify the problem.

With Alopecia areata, usually, given time, the hair reappears on its own, although in persistent cases, steroid injections may help. Sometimes the condition becomes severe or recurrent, and the patient may even lose eyebrows and lashes (Alopecia Totalis) or all body hair (Alopecia Universalis). Overall, 50% of people experiencing AA before puberty will have more troubles with this condition throughout life.

There is no treatment which can provide a total cure for severe Alopecia Areata. A multifaceted approach has included the use of irritants such as dithranol and systemic steroids. Treatment with immune enhancers is occasionally useful but can cause unpleasant side-effects. Topical Minoxidil with or without oral steroids for short periods has been used. Cyclosporin may have dramatic effects but they are usually temporary. In deciding how to treat Alopecia Areata, the age of onset and severity are key factors.

Fortune favours the brave
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