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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is a hair loss condition, a disorder in a specific area of the body.  This condition causes continuous hair loss and makes a person bald. The hair loss is seen in patches on the scalp and it spreads to entire body, if not treated promptly, causing total hair loss. Alopecia areata needs quick treatment to stop hair loss. Nevertheless, it is not a life-threatening condition.

Causes


Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, acting against your body.  In this condition, your hair follicles weaken and uproot the hair. The autoimmune conditions may also include thyroids, allergies, ulcerative colitis and arthritis, besides being hereditary and genetic.

Common Symptoms 


Bald patches on the scalp are the initial signs of alopecia areata and slowly it is visible on other parts of the body. The common symptom is hair loss, where some have complete baldness.  However, treatment measures may cause itching, when there is stimulation of hair re-growth.

Diet



  • Foods high in calcium such as leafy greens, soymilk, nuts, nut milks, tofu and soy products
  • Whole grains, seeds and beans
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants
  • Omega-3 fatty acids available in salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout
  • Vitamin B rich foods such as tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, chard and nuts
  • Healthy fats such as flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, canola and olive oil


To Be Reduced,


  • Oily, fried and greasy food
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Animal fat, particularly meat
  • Refined foods such as bakery items
  • Acidic food triggering inflammation
  • Sugary food and sweets



Diagnose and Treatment


There are no specific treatments to cure alopecia areata. However, as alopecia areata is associated with immune system, there are treatments to suppress the immune system.  Normally, a dermatologist uses a lens, but a biopsy of the scalp is essential in some cases. Some may require treatment, but in most cases hair will show re-growth within 12 months, even without treatment. Treatment is in two types - Medication and surgery.
Medication:

Minoxidil: This is available in liquid form as over the counter medication. It may be rubbed twice in a day into the scalp and it will prevent further hair loss. It also assists in covering up bald patches and the hair growth is finer and shorter. Minoxidil may cause irritation on the scalp sometimes.

Corticosteroids: This refers to Corticosteroids injections to be injected on a monthly basis into the scalp for hair growth. This medication is recommended with corticosteroids pills in extensive alopecia areata cases. There are ointments and creams available, but are less effective than the injection.

Anthralin: This is available as a cream or ointment. It is applied on the scalp and washed off daily.

Surgery: Surgery is for people whom medications do not work. These surgeries are hair transplants or scalp reduction surgery.

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