haircutFour hairdressers volunteered and donated their time at Dewitt High School in America so that they could cut hair for the ‘Children with Hair Loss’ non-profit organisation. ‘Children with Hair Loss’ provide human hair replacements for children who suffer from medically related hair loss for free – similar to ‘The Little Princess Trust’ in the UK who provide free wigs for children and young adult patients. Many people associate medically related hair loss to cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, however alopecia areata is also a leading cause of hair loss.

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own white blood cells attack the hair follicles. As the hair follicle is where the hair growth begins, hair falls out and does not regrow. Sometimes the damage to the hair follicles can be permanent, whereas in other cases it may not be.  Although there are numerous theories it is not yet known how alopecia areata is triggered, however it has been observed commonly in people younger than twenty years old in both men, women and children. The initial symptom of alopecia areata is when clumps of hair fall out and leave behind completely smooth, round hairless patches on the scalp or other parts of the body. In rare cases, hair falls out all over the body – this is known as alopecia universalis. Some patients notice that their hair is often growing back in in one area but falling out in another area. Many people consider their hair as an important part of their appearance; therefore alopecia areata is often accompanied with emotional distress and feelings of unattractiveness.

Treatments for alopecia areata

Some patient’s find that their hair grows back within a year and do not require any treatment. During the time their hair is growing back, they may wish to wear hairpieces or use certain hair care products or styling techniques to conceal the hair loss. Otherwise, one of the most common treatments for patchy hair loss is corticosteroid injections on the scalp every month. Children can use topical corticosteroids and all patients can try Minoxidil along with their treatments to stimulate hair regrowth.

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By Ian Watson

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