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What is Alopecia Areata?
By Dr. Raj Sidhu, Christchurch, NZ www.hairlosstreatment.co.nz
Alopecia Areata is a type of hair loss which generally affects the hair located upon the scalp, but may, however, also affect hair which is situated within other areas of the body. It is a condition which occurs quite rapidly in both men, women and children and tends to affect and/or influence one part of the scalp more than the other, thus causing certain patches of baldness to occur.
What causes Alopecia Areata?
Although the true cause of Alopecia Areata is still unknown, current evidence suggests that it is caused by an abnormality within the immune system, which causes a misdirected auto-immune response to occur. Hence, the body's own immune system becomes self-destructive and consequently begins to attack certain tissues of the body. In this case, the affected structures are the hair follicles, thus causing the disruption of normal hair formation and hair loss to occur. Biopsies of samples of affected scalp tissue show and confirm the presence of white blood cells in the hair follicles; these are not normally present in this area, and are typically involved in the immune response. Alopecia Areata has also been known to sometimes occur across several generations of family members, which may suggest that the condition may be caused due to certain hereditary factors. It is also occasionally associated with other auto - immune conditions such as allergic disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis.
Are there different forms of Alopecia Areata?
There are various forms of Alopecia Areata that may occur, the most common symptoms being one or more patches of hair loss or complete baldness and/or the general thinning of hair throughout the crown. Occasionally, a condition referred to as Alopecia Totalis may occur; this causes complete hair loss over the entire scalp. Less frequently, a condition known as Alopecia Universalis may occur, where complete hair loss occurs throughout the entire body.
Who is affected by Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata tends to occur most commonly within children and young adults. However, it may also affect older individuals
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