What is localized alopecia?
Hair loss that seems on a very different area on the scalp and head is known as localized hair loss or contained alopecia. In this case, unlike diffuse hair loss, where the hair falls evenly over the entire scalp, bald spots begin to develop in specific areas of the head. Different areas can be affected and vary for different types of hair loss.
It is highly recommended to consult a dermatologist. A healthcare professional will use dermatoscopy to diagnose this type of hair loss. This quick and easy method has improved the diagnosis and monitoring of scalp conditions. Mainly, it helps to differentiate occasional or chronic hair loss from androgenetic alopecia. Also, the pull test is performed to determine the type of hair loss, therefore if it is telogen effluvium or another type of hair loss.
What are the main types of localized alopecia?
Baldness is the most common form of androgenetic alopecia, resulting in localized hair loss in men, around the temple regions and hairline. It is more diffuse among women.
Traction alopecia, which is caused by too tight and heavy hairstyles, occurs with repeated pulling on the scalp. These mechanical manipulations result in regular localized hair loss around the hairline.
Scarring alopecia, or scarred hair loss, is a rare and chronic condition that causes inflammation of the affected areas on the scalp. Hair follicles are destroyed and, as a result, enduring hair loss is perceived in certain areas.
Alopecia areata is a dermatological condition characterized by small patches of baldness. Anyone can be affected and at any age. This autoimmune disease progresses differently from person to person, but in most cases, hair grows back in the area within 6 to 12 months.
Some fungal infections of the scalp, such as ringworm, can cause localized alopecia in different areas of the head. Medicinal treatment is required.
Causes of localized alopecia
Current evidence proposes that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality in the immune system that damages hair follicles. This specific abnormality leads to autoimmunity, a misguided immune scheme that tends to attack your own body. As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues in the body. In alopecia areata, for unidentified reasons, the body’s own immune system doses the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of the affected skin show immune lymphocytes penetrating the hair bulb of the hair follicles.
- Alopecia areata is infrequently related to other autoimmune conditions such as
- Thyroid disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis and
- Ulcerative colitis.
- The diagnosis or action of these diseases is unlikely to affect the course of alopecia areata.
- Sometimes alopecia areata occurs within family members, suggesting a role for genes.
Symptoms of localized alopecia
The most prominent symptom of alopecia areata is patchy hair loss. Coin-sized covers of hair start to fall out, mainly from the scalp. However, any hair growth site can be affected, including the beard and eyelashes.
Hair loss can be sudden and develop within a few days or a period of a few weeks. There may be itching or burning in the area before hair loss. Hair follicles are not destroyed, and therefore hair can grow back if the inflammation in the follicles subsides. People who experience only a few patches of hair loss often have a spontaneous and full recovery without any treatment.
About 30 per cent of people who develop alopecia areata find that their condition becomes more extensive or turns into a continuous cycle of hair loss and growth.
About half of patients recover from alopecia areata within a year, but many will experience more than one episode. About 10 per cent of people will develop or Alopecia Universalis.
Alopecia areata can also affect fingernails and toenails, and sometimes these changes are the first sign that the condition is developing. Several small changes can occur to your nails:
- Punctual dents appear
- White spots and lines appear
- Nails become rough
- Nails lose their shine
- Nails become thin and split
Additional clinical signs include:
Hairs with exclamation marks: This occurs when few short hairs become narrower at the bottom and grow on or around the edges of bald patches.
Corpse Hairs: This is where the hairs break before reaching the surface of the skin.
White hair: Can grow in areas affected by hair loss.
There is no known cure for alopecia areata, but there are treatments you can try that may slow down hair loss in the future or help hair grow back more quickly.
The condition is difficult to predict, which means it may require a great deal of trial and error until you find something that works for you. For some people, hair loss can get worse, even with treatment.
You can rub medications into the scalp to help stimulate hair growth. There are several medications available, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription:
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) is available without a prescription and is applied twice daily to the scalp, eyebrows, and beard. It’s relatively safe, but it may take a year to see results. There is only evidence that it is helpful for people with limited alopecia areata.
- Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp) is a drug that irritates the skin to stimulate hair growth.
- Corticosteroid creams such as clobetasol (Impoyz), foams, lotions, and ointments are supposed to work by lessening inflammation in the hair follicle.
- Topical immunotherapy is a technique in which a chemical such as diphencyprone is applied to the skin to cause an allergic rash. The rash, which resembles poison oak, can induce new hair growth in six months, but you will need to continue treatment to maintain growth.
Steroid injections are a common option for mild and patchy alopecia to help regrow hair in bald areas. Small needles inject the steroid into the bare skin of the affected areas.
The treatment should be repeated every one to two months for the hair to grow back. It does not prevent new hair loss from occurring.
Cortisone tablets are sometimes used for extensive alopecia, but due to the potential for side effects, you should discuss this option with a doctor.
Oral immunosuppressants, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, are another option you can try. They work by blocking the response of the immune system, but cannot be used for a long time due to the risk of side effects, such as high blood pressure, liver and kidney damage, and an increased risk of serious infections and a type of cancer called lymphoma.
Phototherapy is also called photochemotherapy or light therapy. It is a type of radiation treatment that uses a combination of an oral medicine called psoralens and ultraviolet light.
The characteristic finding of alopecia areata is one or more well-defined areas of otherwise normal hairless skin in hairy areas.
Occasionally, a scalp biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Other answers that may be obliging are the appearance of short hairs that presumably represent fractured hairs, thin short hairs, and grey hair growing in a bald area.
Other causes of hair loss are generally excluded from consideration by history and clinical evaluation.
Alopecia areata cannot be prevented because its cause is unknown.
This autoimmune disorder can be a consequence of several factors. These include family history, other autoimmune conditions, and even other skin conditions. But not everyone with any of these factors will develop the hair condition. That is why preventing it is not yet possible.
What diets should you eat if you have alopecia?
- Fruits and vegetables
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables like apples, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower, among others, contain antioxidants. This reduces inflammation in the body which can help reduce the symptoms of alopecia.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids which are a great way to reduce inflammation and symptoms of alopecia.
Rich in antioxidants, consuming onions in any form can help improve alopecia symptoms.
Another food that is full of omega 3 fatty acids is fish. Consuming fish can help improve alopecia symptoms.
Your hair is made up mostly of protein. Protein-rich foods include eggs, meat, and beans.
- Ghee and oils
Good oils like olive oil comprise omega 3 fatty acids that help decrease inflammation. A doctor will assess the patient and her needs. Based on the evaluation, your doctor will recommend that certain oils be consumed along with some herbs.
What foods should you avoid if you have alopecia?
- Dairy products
Milk contains a protein called casein that is said to irritate the immune system. If it triggers immune system responses, it can contribute to worsening alopecia symptoms.
- Polyunsaturated fats
It is recommended that you eat boiled/steamed food instead of fried if you have alopecia. This is because oils like sunflower oil, margarine, and corn oil contain bad fats that can contribute to hair loss in people with alopecia.
Can your hair grow back if you have alopecia areata?
If you have alopecia areata, your hair can grow back. However, there is a possibility that it will fall again. In some cases, hair loss is permanent. Treatment depends on person to person. What may work for one being may not work for additional.
How long does it take for alopecia areata to spread?
Usually, you may notice that the bald spots are spreading quite quickly. However, it can be treated and does not spread to other people. Alopecia will not affect your well-being or your daily activities and it is not a serious condition. The only problem with this condition is that it can be emotionally draining due to its appearance. Learn to accept your body and celebrate it, no matter what.
Complications of alopecia
AU (Alopecia Universalis) is not life-threatening. But living with this condition increases your risk of other health problems. Because AU causes baldness, there is an increased risk of scalp burns from sun exposure. These sunburns increase the risk of developing skin cancer on the scalp. To protect yourself, apply sunscreen to bald spots on your head or wear a hat or wig.
You can also lose your eyebrows or eyelashes, which makes it easier for debris to get into your eyes. Wear protective glasses when you are outdoors or working around the house.
Because the loss of hair from your nostrils also makes it easier for bacteria and germs to enter your body, there is an increased risk of respiratory illnesses. Protect yourself by limiting contact with sick people and talk to your doctor about getting your yearly flu and pneumonia vaccinations.