What Is The First Sign Of Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata isn’t painful. It doesn’t affect everyday life as there’s no loss of body function. It can be the cause of sudden and often drastic hair loss. And this makes it a condition that can devastate your self-esteem. Society associates luxurious hair with beauty and youth. When you lose your hair, it can be extremely distressing. What is the first sign of alopecia areata? Read on…
Recognise the Signs
The most noticeable of alopecia symptoms is patchy hair loss. These bald areas are coin-shaped and mainly alter the scalp. The condition can affect beards, eyelashes, and body hair.
This hair loss can develop in just a few days. Or over a few weeks.
Alopecia areata can also affect toe and fingernails and the following changes may indicate the condition is developing:
- White spots and lines are noticeable on nails.
- Nails become rough.
- Minute dents appear in nails.
- Nails become dull.
- Nails thin and split.
Clinical signs include:
- Short hairs that get narrower at the base and grow in or around the edge of the bald spots – known as exclamation mark hairs.
- Hairs break before reaching the skin surface – known as cadaver hairs.
- New hair growth in areas affected by hair loss may be white.
Alopecia areata treatment comes in a variety of forms. The most common being the use of powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that aid in suppressing the immune system. These are known as corticosteroids. You may be injected with them, have ointment applied, or be given them by mouth.
Photochemotherapy is also proving to be a rising treatment. This involves a topical application followed by UVA irradiation three times a week for 15 to 24 total sessions. Results show cosmetically acceptable growth afterwards. A viable alternative for sufferers who are incompatible with other treatments.
If you have alopecia areata you need to protect the areas that are affected by:
- Wearing sunscreen during warmer months.
- Guarding eyes with wraparound glasses which eyebrows and lashes would normally do.
- Dressing in hats in the winter to keep your head warm, or scarves and caps in summer to protect from the sun.
- Using ointment inside the nose to keep organisms that are normally trapped by nasal hair at bay.
Is alopecia contagious?
No, absolutely not. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. This means that your immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles – stopping hair growth. As there’s no related virus or bacteria there’s no organism to spread it, therefore it cannot be contagious.
Why does it happen?
Your immune system can become overactive. Due to certain medications, and often caused by extreme stress or trauma. Or infections. The immune cells attack the hair follicles causing mild inflammation. Weakening roots, causing hair to fall out, and resulting bald patches.
Where can I get help?
When you’re battling against alopecia you can make an appointment to see your GP. You may be referred to a dermatologist. Or you can visit our trusted hair salon, we offer professional non-surgical hair replacement solutions that give transformative effects and can help with some types of alopecia. A non-invasive method to boost your confidence again.
Support groups and counselling are available if you want to discuss common reactions to this condition. Although there is no cure, people who experience patchy hair loss often experience a full recovery without any treatment at all.