Archive for the ‘Alopecia’ Category

No Cure Yet for Alopecia

There’s currently no cure for alopecia areata. There are treatments that may help hair grow back more quickly and that can prevent future hair loss. There are also resources available to help people cope with the disease.

The main symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss. Hair loss might also occur on other parts of the body. Hair loss alone shouldn’t be used to diagnose alopecia areata.

It develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. The condition rarely results in total hair loss, or alopecia universalis, but it can prevent hair from growing back. When hair does grow back, it’s possible for the hair to fall out again.

In rare cases, some people may experience more extensive hair loss. This is usually an indication of another type of alopecia, such as:

If you have alopecia areata, however, your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles. Hair follicles are the structures from which hairs grow. The follicles become smaller and stop producing hair, leading to hair loss.

The hair loss associated with alopecia areata is unpredictable and random. The hair may grow back at any time and then may fall out again. The extent of hair loss and regrowth varies greatly from person-to-person.

Researchers don’t know what triggers the immune system to attack hair follicles, so the exact cause of this condition isn’t known. They also believe that certain factors in the environment are needed to trigger alopecia areata in people who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

Blood tests might be done if other autoimmune conditions are suspected. If these autoantibodies are found in your blood, it usually means that you have an autoimmune disorder.

Your doctor may also perform a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions that cause hair loss, including fungal infections, such as tinea capitis. During a scalp biopsy, your doctor will remove a small piece of skin on your scalp for analysis.

Your doctor will review your symptoms to determine if you have alopecia areata. They may be able to diagnose alopecia areata simply by looking at the extent of your hair loss and by examining a few hair samples under a microscope.

alopecia totalis, which is the loss of all hair on the scalp
alopecia universalis, which is the loss of all hair on the entire body

Other blood tests that can help rule out other conditions include the following:

C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate
iron levels
antinuclear antibody test
thyroid hormones
free and total testosterone
follicle stimulating and luteinizing hormone

Hair Loss and Thyroid conditions

Is Your Thyroid the Reason for Your Hair Loss?

Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that rests on the midline of your neck, overlying your windpipe. It produces hormones that regulate the amount of energy you have for your daily activities. Both too much and too little thyroid hormones in your body cause disease. Both conditions also cause alopecia or hair loss. In some cases, hair loss is the initial symptom of a thyroid problem.
If you are experiencing unexplained hair loss, your doctor may request for blood tests to check the levels of your thyroid hormones. Here are questions that may help you determine if your hair loss is due to your thyroid gland.

Is your thyroid gland overactive?

Hyperthyroidism results from an excess of thyroid hormones. You may notice that your hair is oily and greasy. In addition, you may feel any of the following:
• Fatigue
• Weight loss despite an increased appetite
• Constant nervousness
• Hand tremors
• Heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute (you may feel your heart thumping in your chest)
• Excessive sweating
• Bowel movement more frequent than you are used to

Is your thyroid gland underactive?

Hypothyroidism results from a deficiency of thyroid hormones. Your hair becomes thin, dry, and brittle. You do not only lose hair on your scalp. You may also have thinning of hair on your eyebrows and other body parts. Here are other symptoms of hypothyroidism:
• Decreased energy to do your activities
• Weight gain
• Decreased sweating and inability to tolerate cold weather
• Constipation
• Depression

Do you have an enlarging neck mass?

A normal-sized thyroid does not produce a noticeable bulge on your neck. If you have an enlarging neck mass at the midline of your neck, if you experience difficulty swallowing food or drinking liquids, or if you experience hoarseness, you may have an enlarging thyroid nodule. Thyroid nodules can produce too much, too little, or normal amounts of thyroid hormones. Because they can either be cancerous or noncancerous, it is best to have your neck evaluated by an endocrinologist or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

Are you taking thyroid medications?

Your doctor may prescribe you levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid) for your thyroid problem. Levothyroxine may aggravate your hair loss problem. If you experience excessive hair loss after taking levothyroxine, inform your doctor so that he can explain to you your options should you wish to discontinue taking the drug.
Even if hair loss is not a life-threatening symptom of thyroid disease, it may easily be the most bothersome to you. The other symptoms of thyroid disease may stop after only a few of weeks of taking medications. Your hair loss, however, may take about 3 to 6 months to reverse. Be patient. Talk to your endocrinologist about this concern so that he can allay your fears.

Meanwhile, you might want to consider hair replacement options for people experiencing alopecia related to their thyroid. You may conceal your hair loss by using toupees or getting hair extensions. You may also benefit from laser hair therapy, a painless non-surgical procedure that stimulates hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp.

“We constantly hear from people who suffer from this disorder”, says Legacy Hair Center CEO Ronnie Talent. Hair replacement technology can definitely help. High end hair replacement studios use the same technology used in Hollywood- we can have the client looking like a movie star- so they can still look the way they desire, as they go through the treatment for their thyroid condition.

Legacy Hair Center specializes in the best hair restoration and hair replacement options for both men and women. You don’t have to suffer from alopecia. Visit the center in Charlotte, North Carolina and be among the thousands of people that Legacy has helped reach their hair restoration goals.

 

The Girl With No Hair: A Story About Alopecia Areata (Health Press for Kids)

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Alopecia Areata: Understanding and Coping with Hair Loss

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