The word alopecia means hair loss and there are a number of variations in how it presents and what causes it – male pattern baldness’s medical name is androgenic alopecia for example. Another variation of alopecia is alopecia areata, which is thought to affect about 15 in every 10,000 people in the UK.
Alopecia areata can affect both women and men equally and can develop in childhood. It refers to loss of hair on the head in patches, but it can develop into alopecia totalis which is loss of all hair on the scalp and, for an unlucky few, it can result in loss of all hair on the body, known as alopecia universalis.
Usually one or more small, round patches will appear on the scalp. There is usually no scarring and the skin can appear smooth and shiny. Sometimes there will be mild redness or scaling and there maybe some burning or itching but usually there is no discomfort.
What causes alopecia areata and can it be cured?
Alopecia areata is thought to be an auto-immune condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing inflammation, that leads to the hair falling out. The hair follicles are not destroyed and it’s perfectly possible for the hair follicles to start working again, with or without treatment.
It is not known what causes the body’s immune system to turn on itself in this way although it might be a reaction to a virus or other illness, certain medications or other environmental factors. Diagnosis can be performed from a study of the hair loss and by either performing a biopsy or blood test or both.
There is no cure for alopecia areata, but there are treatment options that can hopefully speed up the hair follicles’ recovery process. Corticosteroids in the form of injections into the scalp or as a topical or oral medication can be prescribed. Minoxidil, which is a hair regrowth medicine is often prescribed in combination with other treatments. Diphencyprone or DPCP is a medication that can cause an allergic reaction when applied to the bald patches and it’s thought that the allergic reaction resets the immune system.
Can Alopecia Areata Sufferers Undergo Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp micropigmentation is a camouflage technique that aims to disguise areas of hair loss, so is ideally suited to those who are suffering from alopecia areata. It causes no damage to the hair follicles so won’t prevent hair from growing back. Once the hair grows back the simulated hair strokes are just covered up.
To see if you’re suitable for a scalp micropigmentation treatment, call today to book your free consultation.