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Alopecia areata is a disease that causes rapid hair loss and, although it is more common on the head, it can also affect other areas of the body that have hair, such as eyebrows, beard, legs and arms. In rare cases, alopecia areata can cause hair loss and hair loss all over the body, which is called alopecia areata universalis.
The cause of alopecia areata is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to have an autoimmune origin, in which the immune system produces antibodies that attack he althy cells in the hair follicles.
Alopecia areata has no cure and its treatment depends on the severity of the hair loss, but it is usually done with injections and ointments that are applied to the scalp to stimulate hair growth. by the dermatologist.
The most characteristic symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss in a circular shape, which can occur anywhere on the body, but tends to be more intense on the head.
In the place where there is hair loss, a single whitish plaque, round, smooth and shiny in appearance is usually observed.
Despite the absence of hair at the affected site, the hair follicles are not destroyed and, therefore, it is possible that the situation can be reversed through appropriate treatment. In addition, it is common that when the hair grows back in the region it has a white color, but then it has a normal color.
The causes of alopecia areata are unknown, but it is believed to be a multifactorial situation that may be related to some factors, such as:
- Genetic factors;
- Autoimmune diseases such as vitiligo and lupus;
- Changes in the thyroid.
It is important that the cause related to alopecia is identified, so that it is possible to start treatment to solve the cause, which can relieve symptoms and promote hair growth.
How the treatment is done
The choice of treatment should be made together with the dermatologist according to the degree of alopecia and related cause, and the use of: may be recommended
- Cortisone injections: are given once a month to the area where the hair has fallen out. Along with the injections, the patient can also use creams or lotions to apply to the affected area at home;
- Topical minoxidil: liquid lotion that must be applied twice a day in the area with hair loss, but it is not effective in cases of total hair loss;
- Anthralin: sold as a cream or ointment, it must be applied to the affected region, which may cause changes in skin color. The concentration to be purchased and the time of application of this medication must be done according to medical advice.
More severe cases of hair loss in various regions of the body can be treated with the use of corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, according to the doctor's advice.