Alopecia Areata: What is It and How Do You Treat It?

Hair loss affects millions of men and women in the United States, and about 1 in 5 Americans experience some type of hair loss. Many people think of male patterned baldness when they think of hair loss, but both males and female can experience hair thinning and losing hair in patches. Individuals that experience hair loss in patches are most likely experiencing alopecia areata. At Fargo Center for Dermatology, our team helps patients dealing with alopecia areata so that they can restore their hair growth as well as their confidence. By visiting Dr. Ness and our team at our office in Fargo, North Dakota, we can educate you on alopecia areata and establish a suitable treatment plan for you.

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that can cause hair loss on the scalp, face, and other areas of the body. This condition affects about 6.8 million people in the U.S. Alopecia areata can affect people of all ages, sexes, and ethnic groups. The onset, severity, and location of alopecia areata varies with each individual. From sudden hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, or eyelashes to hair falling out in localized patches, many people with alopecia areata wonder if their hair will ever grow back. The hair follicles remain alive with this condition, so the hair can “regrow”. However, some people experience Alopecia Universalis which prevents that hair from growing back. If the hair does grow back from alopecia, it is possible for it to fall out again.

What Causes Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease; a trigger either occurs inside the body (from a virus or a bacteria) or outside the body (from surroundings) that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles. The immune system mistakes normal cells in the body as foreign and attacks the cells. Researchers and scientists are not sure of the exact cause of this condition, but genetics may play a role in the development of this disease.

Types of Alopecia Areata

Everyone experiences alopecia areata differently. There are a few different forms of this disease that patients may experience.

Alopecia Areata

This is the most common form of this disease. It is characterized by one or more coin-sized patches without hair either on the scalp or other areas of the body.

Alopecia Totalis

This means that there is a total loss of hair on the scalp.

Alopecia Universalis

This means that a patient experiences total hair loss on the scalp, face, and body.

Treatment For Alopecia Areata

In Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Ness and her team of specialists at Fargo Center For Dermatology offer a range of treatments for patients dealing with alopecia areata. By speaking with one of the specialists, they can find and recommend the right treatment for each individual based on their unique symptoms and lifestyle.

Corticosteroids

This is a medication that comes in the form of a cream, pill, or injection. It works by suppressing the immune system to allow hair to grow back.

Minoxidil

This is an over-the-counter topical treatment that was designed for hair regrowth.

Anthralin

This treatment alters the immune function in the body and lessens inflammation to help the hair regrow. It is a short contact therapy.

Diphencyprone

This topical medication is applied to areas of hair loss, causing a small reaction that tricks the immune system into sending white blood cells to the area, preventing hair loss.

PRP Injections

This treatment uses platelet-rich plasma from the patients’ blood and injects it into the treatment area. This nutrient-rich PRP stimulates the body’s healing processes to help the hair regrow.

Changing Your Diet

Although alopecia areata cannot be prevented since the cause is unknown, there may be some ways to prevent the condition or lessen symptoms through a balanced diet. An “anti-inflammatory” diet is designed to reduce the autoimmune response in the body. The foundational foods are fruits and vegetables like blueberries, seeds, nuts, beets, broccoli, and lean meats like salmon.

It is important to note that foods with sugar, alcohol, and processed foods can increase inflammation and irritation in the body, so it is best to avoid these as much as possible.

Diagnosing Alopecia Areata

In order to get a diagnosis for this condition, it is important to see a dermatologist or doctor versed in autoimmune disorders. Dr. Ness and her team in Fargo, North Dakota can help to diagnose alopecia areata in men, women, and children. To diagnose this condition, Dr. Ness will assess the extent of the hair loss, examine hair samples under a microscope, and possibly perform a scalp biopsy to rule out other conditions and causes of hair loss.

Alopecia areata is unpredictable. Some patients may experience hair loss and related symptoms for the rest of their life, while others may experience hair loss just once. This also applies to hair regrowth; some will experience full regrowth, while others may not.

Coping with Alopecia Areata

Dealing with hair loss can be emotionally challenging. Many people could become depressed or isolate themselves. It is important to remember that millions of people in the United States alone have alopecia areata. There are different ways to cope with this condition: wigs, eyelash extensions, eyebrow pens, or microblading may help those with hair loss feel more confident. At Fargo Center for Dermatology, we can help to introduce ways to cope with this condition, as our team wants our patients to feel confident and beautiful.

Schedule a Consultation

Alopecia areata is a common, but impactful condition. If you are experiencing hair loss near Fargo, North Dakota, contact Dr. Ness and the team at Fargo Center for Dermatology. We have a variety of treatment options that can be tailored to each patient’s unique situation. To make an appointment, contact the office by phone or by filling out an online form.