What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that occurs in round patches on the scalp, but can be in the eyebrows, eyelashes and beard area.

For reasons we do not understand, the body begins to attack its own hair follicles and those follicles stop making hair, then the hair falls out from the roots. 
Alopecia areata is not contagious, not caused by foods, and usually not related to any other health problems. It sometimes runs in families or is triggered by stress.

Alopecia areata has three stages. First, there is sudden hair loss. Then the patches of hair loss may enlarge. Last, new hair grows back. This takes months-sometimes more than a year. Sometimes, new bald spots develop while others are regaining hair. Each condition is different and follows a different course, but in general alopecia areata remains localized except in rare conditions.

What should I expect if I have alopecia areata?

Hair usually grows back itself, but slowly. Some cases can take years to recover. Sometimes the new hair is thinner and temporarily gray or white, but after a while the original color usually returns.

The re-growth of hair can often be sped up by injecting a steroid medicine into the area of hair loss. If new areas of hair loss appear, re-growth may be helped by injecting steroid into them as well. There are other treatments available, but the results are usually less consistent. Cortisone liquids, gels, or creams can be rubbed into the skin instead of injections.  These treatments are not for everyone, please ask Dr.Abdul Hameed which treatment is right for you.

For information about alopecia areata support groups visit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation at www.naaf.org.

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