Hair loss refers to the physiological loss of hair, and it is stipulated that it is normal to lose about 50 to 100 hairs per day. However, visible hair loss can occur, and this phenomenon is caused by various causes such as genetics and androgens, the male hormone. Alopecia areata is a disease in which hair falls out in a circular shape and is known to occur in about 2% of the total population. In general, the main feature is the sudden loss of hair in a circular shape, but if the symptoms are severe, not only the entire hair on the scalp falls out, but it also spreads throughout the body and causes hair loss. It can also occur at any age and, rarely, in children. Although the main cause of alopecia areata is not clearly known, it is presumed to be a type of autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells, tissues, and organs. In normal cases, the immune cells inside the body do not attack the hair follicles, but if the immune system of the hair follicles changes for some reason, the immune cells attack the hair follicles and cause inflammation, which is thought to cause hair loss. In addition to family history, thyroid-related diseases, nutritional imbalance, hormones, surgery, and extreme mental stress are also known to affect the occurrence of alopecia areata. Now, let’s learn about the various symptoms and treatment information that appear when alopecia areata occurs.
Main symptoms of alopecia areata
The main characteristic of alopecia areata is the loss of round or hairs of various sizes without any noticeable symptoms, and the occurrence of bald spots, a symptom that looks like dots. These symptoms can occur suddenly over a period of days or weeks, and usually occur in the head. And if the symptoms are severe, frontal alopecia occurs in which the hair is completely lost, and it can progress to generalized hair loss in which the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, body hair, and pubic hair are lost. And if the symptom area is enlarged, a large bald patch may be formed. In addition, at a rate of 10 to 20%, abnormal symptoms such as depression of the toenails and white spots appear. Alopecia areata is reported to improve spontaneously within a year at a rate of about 35-50%. However, it is known that the treatment results are not good or recovery is not good in cases where the scope is not wide, such as frontal and general hair loss. In addition, even when hair loss is old or occurring at a young age, the prognosis is poor, and there are often no responses to treatment. If treatment is performed within 6 months of onset, the cure rate is said to be over 90%, but it is reported that the treatment rate gradually decreases when treated after 6 months. Therefore, it is important to get appropriate treatment as soon as possible after it occurs. In addition, even after recovery to some extent, it is known that recurrence occurs if management is not performed properly, so management after treatment is also very important.
Alopecia areata treatment and management method
1. Diagnosis and treatment
Alopecia areata is diagnosed with characteristic clinical features, and in the case of alopecia areata, since the incidence of other autoimmune diseases is high, additional tests can be performed to check whether there are any accompanying diseases. And according to the diagnosis result, treatment is carried out with the aim of suppressing inflammation around the hair follicles. Local steroid injection is the most widely used treatment method, and topical steroids or topical agents such as minoxidil are also used for treatment. In addition to this, immune response modulators such as pimecrolimus and cyclosporine are used or immunotherapy is performed.
2. Stress Control
It is known that there is no special method to prevent alopecia areata, so it is important to receive treatment as soon as possible immediately after it occurs, and to proceed with continuous management. In particular, since extreme mental stress and tension are presumed to affect the occurrence of alopecia areata, it is recommended to improve the environment and circumstances that cause stress. In addition, it is important to consistently implement sufficient sleep, rest, and leisure activities for proper stress management.
3. Balanced intake of various nutrients
Nutritional imbalance is also known to be the cause of alopecia areata, so it is helpful to eat vegetables, fruits, and seaweeds rich in various vitamins and minerals. In particular, eating protein-rich foods such as legumes, meat, and eggs provides abundant nutrition to the hair, so it is desirable to eat them in a balanced way. Nuts, brewer’s yeast, chrysanthemums, dairy products, and other foods also strengthen the scalp tissue and at the same time have excellent effects in removing sebum and dead skin cells from the scalp. Also, frequent massage of the scalp, shoulders, and neck, along with regular exercise to enhance immune function, can help relieve symptoms and prevent recurrence. Other excessive diets can cause nutritional imbalance, so it is recommended to be careful.