What is alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. The most common type of hair loss is called androgenetic, or hereditary pattern hair loss. It tends to run in families and can occur in both men and women, starting in the early 20s.
Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune type of hair loss seen in children and young adults. The condition typically resolves over six to 12 months. Some treatments may stimulate the hair to grow back sooner.
Telogen effluvium, or increased hair shedding, is another temporary form of hair loss. It is common after childbirth or hospitalization, but an investigation for other causes is sometimes helpful. Other types of hair loss may cause scarring or may be associated with other skin conditions and rashes.
What causes alopecia?
This condition is an autoimmune disease and occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Your genetic makeup, along with other factors, can trigger this form of hair loss. Alopecia most often occurs in otherwise healthy people at any age.
If you have alopecia areata, you may have a higher risk for:
- Hay fever
- Type 1 diabetes
- Thyroid disease
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of alopecia areata often include:
- Widespread hair loss
- Patchy hair loss (which often begins with 1 or more coin-sized patches)
- “Exclamation mark” hairs, which are more narrow at the bottom and often occur in or at the edges of bare spots
- Fingernail and toenail issues, including pinpoint dents, white spots or lines, roughness, dullness, and thinning
In some cases, changes in your nails may be the first sign of the disease.
How is it treated?
Evaluating hair loss can include an examination of the hair shafts and scalp, reviewing pertinent laboratory findings, and sometimes a small biopsy of the scalp. Treatment options can include topical and oral medications or small injections into the skin of the scalp to promote hair regrowth.
Dr. Naomi Brooks can prescribe one or more of the following medicines to help you regrow your hair more quickly:
- Minoxidil, a hair regrowth medicine
- Corticosteroids, which suppress the immune system
- Diphencyprone (DPCP), which prevents hair follicles from going dormant
- Anthralin, which alters the skin’s immune function
Request an appointment in Meridian, Idaho
Patients often receive more than one treatment at a time, as a mix of 2 or more treatments can increase the success rate. To learn more about the medications offered at Boise Dermatology & Med Spa, schedule an appointment with Dr. Brooks today. Call (208) 888-0660 or request an appointment online to get started.