- Alopecia Areata: hair loss in patches
- Alopecia Totalis: baldness on the scalp
- Alopecia Universalis: hair loss on the body
in Fargo, North Dakota
Hair loss is often an unavoidable occurrence that can severely affect a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Many people around the United States experience hair loss every year and feel like they have few options. Sometimes, hair loss is a natural occurrence caused by genetics, but sometimes hair loss is due to a disease known as alopecia. A board-certified dermatologist will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and discuss your treatment options.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes severe loss of hair. It’s a fairly common disease affecting around 6 million people in the United States. Alopecia can affect anyone, and it’s not specific to any gender, race, or age, but most people will start to see its affects by the age of 30. There are a few different types of alopecia, which can have different effects on the amount of hair loss and treatment options.
Unlike normal patterned baldness caused by genetics, alopecia is an autoimmune disease caused by your immune system attacking your hair follicles. Alopecia is more likely to happen in people that have a relative with alopecia, have other autoimmune diseases, and have allergies or asthma. Alopecia can also affect your nails, and sometimes your nails can be the best indicators of alopecia being present. If you have alopecia, your nails can change color, get tiny dents, lines, become thin, split, and feel rough to the touch. Alopecia can come and go in stages, forcing hair to fall out and, when the hair grows back, it can fall out again. If you have a history of balding in your family, it does not mean that you will have alopecia, since regular patterned balding is a different issue than alopecia.
If you feel that you may be experiencing alopecia, then you should see your dermatologist for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Often times, your dermatologist will be able to diagnose alopecia just by looking at your hair loss. Sometimes, we can perform a scalp biopsy in order to get a closer look and confirm the alopecia. During a scalp biopsy, a local anesthetic is used in order to carefully collect some hairs (with the follicle intact) for closer analysis with a microscope. This way, Dr. Ness can examine the follicles for any possible causes of your hair loss. After diagnosis from Dr. Ness, she will create a personalized treatment plan for you. The treatments that are available include:
- Corticosteroids: This medication can come in the form of a topical cream, pill, or injection. It helps to suppress the immune system, letting the hair grow back.
- Minoxidil: This is a topical hair regrowth medication.
- Anthralin: This is a short-contact therapy which helps to alter the immune function in the skin.
- Diphencyprone (DPCP): This medicine is topically applied to the scalp. It causes a small reaction, tricking the immune system into sending white blood cells to the scalp, which prevents the hair loss.
Alopecia is not always a permanent condition. Often times, the hair can regrow by itself and stay growing. Even after treatments, alopecia may not always affect you once it has gone away. Though, that is not always the case. Some people with a more severe case of alopecia may be affected all of their lives. In this case, it is important to find ways to manage it and consider possibly joining a support group to deal with the emotional toll that alopecia can have on some patients.
Alopecia affects millions of people around the US. If you have been experiencing symptoms of alopecia and wish to get some relief, then contact the Fargo Center for Dermatology for an appointment with Dr. Ness. You can make an appointment by calling our Fargo office or filling out a form online.