Hair loss can be caused by variety of risk factors. One of those is alopecia areata. This is believed as an auto-immune disease that can be suffered by children and adults. Alopecia is caused by the attack of the body immune system to the hair follicles. In many cases, people suffering from alopecia-induced hair loss get their hair to grow back, while some others develop the more severe types of alopecia; alopecia totalis—the loss of all hair on scalp, and alopecia universalis—the loss of hair all over the body.
How hair loss happens with alopecia
Alopecia is an unpredictable hair loss problem. However, people with family history of hair patches and baldness might be more susceptible to this disease. In most cases, alopecia is preceded by falling hair in small patches around the size of a quarter. This auto-immune disease often trigger hair loss in several patches on the scalp, which makes it visible.
An auto-immune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells—in this case the hair follicles. In alopecia, white blood cells as the body immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing them to shrink and thus, slow down hair production. Therefore, excessive falling hair in certain areas of the scalp is common with alopecia.
Although alopecia is believed to be triggered by genetics, some research also found out that this hair loss problem is also triggered by extreme stress.
How did your alopecia start?
Most alopecia patients experience sudden, fast hair loss which begins in unpredictable manner. This disease may affect both men and women equally. Alopecia is widely known to affect adults, yet there are numerous teens and children are in fact also suffering from the disease. Since this is an auto-immune disease, it is not easy to predict when alopecia is going to start. Some patients even do not notice they are having alopecia, since it is normal for people to lose 50 to 100 strands of hair per day.
However, if you are developing alopecia, you might notice some of the symptoms you will see in its initial development.
- Your alopecia is started by some hair thinning in some areas on the scalp. The patches are commonly in a size of a coin and the hair on these patches start to fall very quickly and extremely. Besides the scalp, any other sites of hair growth may be affected and thus, develop these patches. Beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows are the most common facial hair growth site affected by early alopecia.
- In few days, people experience sudden, fast hair loss. However, during these time the hair follicles are not completely grow and therefore, the hair can still re-grow when the inflammation of the hair follicles eventually subsides. Hence, some people experiencing hairless patches notice that the hair re-grows without any specific treatments.
- In some people, on the other hand, alopecia might start to affect the nails, other than merely the hair. Small changes on the nails as the symptoms of alopecia include pinpoint dents, less shiny nails, rough nails, and thin and split nails. These nail changes are the symptoms of first stage alopecia, which usually occurs hand in hand with patches on the scalp.
- Despite the performed treatments, some people develop the next stage of alopecia, where the patches on scalp develop into hairless scalp—referred as alopecia totalis. With this type of alopecia, the hair fall becomes more severe and affects larger areas of the scalp. Some people find it very hard for the hair to re-grow when alopecia has reached this stage.
- The final stage of alopecia is not very common, yet may still happen with some people. This stage of more severe alopecia causes hair loss all over the body skin, instead of merely the scalp and facial skin. With this, it is very hard for the hair to grow back.
When alopecia starts may not be unpredictable. Some experience this during puberty, while others during more mature stage. However, some initial treatments may be helpful in triggering the hair to grow back and prevent further stages of alopecia which may cause total hair loss.