Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair.

1. alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles camera.gif, which is where hair growth begins. The damage to the follicle is usually not permanent. Experts do not know why the immune system attacks the follicles. Alopecia areata is most common in people younger than 20, but children and adults of any age may be affected. Women and men are affected equally.

2. Corticosteroids
This medicine suppresses the immune system. It can be given as shots, with the dermatologist injecting the medicine into the places with hair loss. Sometimes a patient gets a topical applied to the skin form of this medicine. It may be a cream, lotion, or ointment. The patient applies the medicine to the bare spots. Less often, patients take corticosteroid pills.

For adults with alopecia areata, these shots are often the first treatment tried. Patients receive shots every 3 to 6 weeks. Hair growth begins about 4 weeks after the last shot. Sometimes, it takes longer. Topical corticosteroids are less effective than shots. This is often the best treatment for children. Corticosteroid pills can have serious side effects. Dermatologists do not routinely prescribe them for this reason. Pills may be a treatment choice for patients with many bald spots.

3. Minoxidil
A hair re growth medicine, minoxidil 5%, may help some patients re grow their hair. Both children and adults can use it. Patients apply it twice a day to the scalp, brows, or beard. New hair may start to grow in about 3 months. Patients most often use this medicine with another treatment.

4. Anthralin
This medicine alters the skins immune function. The patient applies a tar like substance to the skin and leaves it on for 20 to 60 minutes. A dermatologist may call this short contact therapy. After 20 to 60 minutes, the anthralin is washed off to avoid the skin from becoming irritated.

5. Diphencyprone
This medicine is applied to the bald skin. It causes a small allergic reaction. When the reaction occurs, a patient has redness, swelling, and itching. Dermatologists believe this allergic reaction tricks the immune system, causing it to send white blood cells to the surface of the scalp. This fights the inflammation. It also prevents the hair follicles from going to sleep, and causing the hair loss.

6. Outcome
When a person has alopecia areata, the hair will start to re grow when the body gets the right signals. Sometimes this happens without treatment. Even with treatment, new hair loss can occur. Everything depends on how the immune system reacts.

7. Re growing hair
It is likely that the hair will grow back even without treatment. It may fall out again, though. Most patients lose their hair more than once before the disease goes away for good. Even people who lose all the hair on their scalp and body can have their hair grow back. When hair loss is widespread lots of hair loss on the scalp and/or body, there is a greater chance that the hair will not re grow.When hair re grows, it can be white or fine at first. A persons own hair color and texture often return later.

8. How long it lasts
This varies. For some people, the disease never returns. Others lose and re grow hair for many years. No one can predict when the hair might re grow or fall out again. This lack of control makes the disease frustrating.

9. Emotional toll
The emotional aspects of living with hair loss can be hard. Our world regards hair as a sign of youth and good health. The good news is that alopecia areata does not affect overall health. It should not stop you from achieving your goals and dreams. You should not let it stop you from doing well in school, sports, and work.If your hair loss bothers you a lot, you may wish to join a support group.

10. Diagnosis
Alopecia areata is usually diagnosed based on clinical features. Trichoscopy may aid differential diagnosis. In AA, trichoscopy shows regularly distributed yellow dots hyperkeratotic plugs, small exclamation mark hairs, and black dots destroyed hairs in the hair follicle opening.

A biopsy is rarely needed in AA. Histologic findings include peribulbar lymphocytic infiltrate swarm of bees. Occasionally, in inactive AA, no inflammatory infiltrates are found. Other helpful findings include pigment incontinence in the hair bulb and follicular stelae, and a shift in the anagen to telogen ratio towards telogen.

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