Alopecia

Overview of Alopecia

Alopecia Meaning in Urdu

یہ بیماری لاحق ہونے کی صورت میں زیادہ تر سر سے بال جھڑنا شروع ہو جاتے ہیں، جب کہ اس کی وجہ سے کچھ لوگوں کے تمام جسم سے بالچر شروع ہو جاتا ہے۔ یہ بالچر وقتی بھی ہو سکتا ہے اور دائمی بھی۔ اس بیماری کی بنیادی وجوہات میں موروثی طبی مسائل، ہارمونز میں تبدیلی، اور کچھ ادویات کا استعمال شامل ہے۔

بالچر کی یہ بیماری کسی کو بھی لاحق ہو سکتی ہے، تاہم مردوں کو اس کا زیادہ سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے۔ اس بیماری کی شدت کو کم کرنے کے لیے یہ ضروری ہوتا ہے کہ بالچر کے آغاز میں ہی کسی ڈاکٹر سے رجوع کیا جائے۔

Alopecia commonly known as hair loss is an autoimmune condition resulting in bald patches. The condition occurs when our immune system attacks our own hair follicles causing hair strands to fall out.

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is also known as hair loss. Alopecia is a medical term for hair loss. In native language, Alopecia meaning is urdu is بال چر.
Alopecia is an autoimmune problem that causes your immune system to attack your own hair follicles. This leads to the destruction of hair follicles, causing abnormal hair loss. As a result, bald patches appear on the affected area.
These bald patches can appear on your scalp, beard, underarms, lashes, eyebrows, and pubic area and may affect other areas of your body. This hair loss is not permanent because not all your hair follicles are destroyed so your hair can regrow.

Occurrence of Alopecia

Alopecia can occur worldwide and affects 1 in 1000 people. There is no gender except when it comes to the occurrence of alopecia. An average person has almost a 2% lifetime risk of suffering from alopecia.

Signs and Symptoms of Alopecia

Alopecia Symptoms

The most common symptoms of alopecia are the occurrence of bald patches. Some other alopecia symptoms may include:

  • Receding Hairline
  • Bald patches turning into bald spots
  • Frequent Hair Loss
  • Hair thinning in areas 
  • Cold weather causes Hair fall
  • Changes in nail bed

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Types of Alopecia

Alopecia Types

Depending on the pattern of hair loss alopecia can be of many types. Some of the common alopecia types include:

  • Androgenic Alopecia: This is commonly known as male-pattern baldness but also occurs in women. Clinical manifestation is different in both men and women. In men, it is associated with other medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, and prostate problems resulting in a receding hairline. Among women, it causes hair thinning and can be associated with other medical conditions such as PCOS.

  • Alopecia Areata: This causes your hair to fall out as patches. It can be further characterized depending upon the body region where hair fall occurs. Alopecia areata can be classified as alopecia totalis (hair loss on scalp area), alopecia universalis (hair loss all over the body), patchy alopecia, and persistent patchy alopecia. 

  • Self-Induced Alopecia/ Traction Alopecia: This type of alopecia is usually caused by hair pulling that comes from wearing tight hairstyles for a long time. This is usually reversible and hairstyle changes can cause your hair to regrow.

  • Telogen Effluvium/Alopecia: This type of alopecia comes from traumatic events or due to uncontrolled stress. These stimuli hold your hair into the telogen phase of hair growth of the life cycle that is resting and causes them to fall out.

  • Anagen Effluvium/Alopecia: This is also known as diffuse alopecia and it causes the diffused shedding of hair strands ( with no particular localized patches all over the affected region). There are many causes for this including medication, radiation exposure, stress, etc. 

  • Scarring Alopecia: Scarring alopecia or cicatricial alopecia refers to multiple hair loss problems that can destroy your hair follicles. 

Causes of Alopecia

Hair is an important part of one's personality and many things can be causing you to lose your hair. Some of the major factors causing alopecia include:

  • Genetics: Alopecia is basically an autoimmune condition in which your own immune system attacks your hair follicles. Your genes carry this information that makes you more prone to losing hair strands. So, if any of your close family members are suffering from this condition, it increases your risk of suffering from the problem. 

Other Diseases: Alongside genetics, people who suffer from other chronic illnesses are more likely to suffer from alopecia areata. Some of the conditions that increase your chances of suffering from alopecia include diabetes, thyroid disease, arthritis, colitis etc. 

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Risk Factors of Alopecia

Some factors that may increase your risk of suffering from alopecia include:

  • Family History: As mentioned earlier, the problem of alopecia travels in your genes so having it in your family definitely increases your chances of suffering from the problem. If you already know people in your family suffering from alopecia then you are more likely to suffer from the problem in the future.

  • Medication Side Effects: At times, consuming certain medications can trigger alopecia. Medicines that are used to treat problems like arthritis, cancer, heart issues, cancer, etc., can cause this problem. So, be mindful of the side effects and discuss them with your physician first in case you observe the above-mentioned symptoms. 

  • Stress: Stress can be one reason that you are losing hair strands. The stress response can trigger your immune system to target your hair follicles resulting in hair loss. 

  • Nutrition: Deficiency of certain nutrients in the body can cause alopecia. One such key nutrient is vitamin D which is known to be associated with alopecia onset.

  • Age: Though people of all ages can get affected by alopecia, however the chances of suffering from alopecia increase when you turn 30.

  • Hormonal Imbalance: Another factor that triggers alopecia is hormonal imbalance. Unregulated hormone levels can increase the production of the male hormone androgen which causes hair fall. 

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Prevention

Some factors that may increase your risk of suffering from alopecia include:

  • Family History: As mentioned earlier, the problem of alopecia travels in your genes so having it in your family definitely increases your chances of suffering from the problem. If you already know people in your family suffering from alopecia then you are more likely to suffer from the problem in the future.
  • Medication Side Effects: At times, consuming certain medications can trigger alopecia. Medicines that are used to treat problems like arthritis, cancer, heart issues, cancer, etc., can cause this problem. So, be mindful of the side effects and discuss them with your physician first in case you observe the above-mentioned symptoms.
  • Stress: Stress can be one reason that you are losing hair strands. The stress response can trigger your immune system to target your hair follicles resulting in hair loss.
  • Nutrition: Deficiency of certain nutrients in the body can cause alopecia. One such key nutrient is vitamin D which is known to be associated with alopecia onset.
  • Age: Though people of all ages can get affected by alopecia, however the chances of suffering from alopecia increase when you turn 30.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Another factor that triggers alopecia is hormonal imbalance. Unregulated hormone levels can increase the production of the male hormone androgen that causes hair fall.
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Diagnosis

Here are some of the ways that can help your physician to diagnose alopecia. 

  • Visual Examination: Your physician can figure out alopecia by visualizing the area where you are experiencing hair loss. 
  • Microscopic Examination: Next among the ways to diagnose hair fall comes to the microscopic examination. Microscopic examination of hair samples can be helpful in diagnosing alopecia.
  • Scalp Biopsy: Alopecia can also be confirmed by using a biopsy procedure. Removing a part of the scalp skin and then analyzing it can help towards the confirmation of alopecia.
  • Blood Tests: Alopecia is an auto-immune problem so your physician can use certain blood tests to diagnose the abnormal immune response. Some of the common blood tests include;
    • Hormone level

    • Iron level

    • Antibody testing

    • Protein  level

Treatment of Alopecia | When to Consult a Doctor

Alopecia hair patches usually regrow after some time. 

Medications to Treat Alopecia

Some of the common drugs that are used for alopecia include;

  • Corticosteroids: This is one of the most common medicines used to treat alopecia. Steroids suppress immune system response and hinder your immune cells from attacking hair follicles. 

  • JAK Inhibitors: This drug group is usually known to suppress the immune response that causes your hair to fall out. The use of these drugs is pretty common to treat alopecia.

Important Note: Always consult your physician before taking any medication.  

Laser Treatment

Low-level laser therapy is one of the popular treatment options for alopecia. Commonly referred to as cold laser therapy is used to treat bald patches caused by alopecia. Furthermore, several sessions of laser therapy also increase hair thickness. 

Cosmetic Treatment

Microneedling is a common cosmetic procedure that is quite effective against alopecia. This minimally invasive procedure uses needles to prick bald areas and this pricking boosts hair growth.

Surgical Treatment

Alopecia can be treated with surgical procedures. Some of these are as follows. 

  • Scalp Reduction Surgery: This surgical procedure is meant to treat hair loss by moving the normal scalp areas to the bald areas and stitching it there. This procedure helps to cover bald areas and is equally effective for both men and women. 

  • Hair Transplantation Surgery: This surgical procedure is known to restore hair after alopecia.  There are two types of hair transplant surgeries known as FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) and FUT (Follicular Unit Transplant. Spending upon your individual needs your physician can ask you to go for one of these procedures.

If you are observing hair thinning alongside bald patches on your scalp and other areas consult a dermatologist. 

 

Doctors to treat Alopecia

Last updated on Tuesday 25/10/2022

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Dr. Irfan Ali Sheikh

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Al Khaleej ClinicRs 1000

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Dr. Sanjay Kumar Oad

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