The number of people who will be diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata in their lifetime has long been a subject of debate. Now, a leading hair loss expert has stated the figure is 1.7 per cent of the population.
This quite closely mirrors the findings of a review carried out by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2015 which stated that the figure was around two per cent.
Thrilled by levels of interest
The 1.7 per cent figure was suggested by Emma Guttman-Yassky MD, a professor of dermatology and immunology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She recently told Yahoo Beauty that she is thrilled to see the current interest in the condition that is in evidence at medical research centres around the world.
She also said that Alopecia Areata is “not being discussed enough” in everyday circles, and describes the condition as “devastating”. Dr Guttman-Yanksy further added, “There’s a lot of emotional distress involved… This is one condition in which I’m pushing for more awareness.”
The website states that Guttman-Yassky and her team at Mount Sinai currently have the largest pool of ongoing Alopecia Areata trials in the country, though Columbia University’s Medical Centre, where famed hair-loss expert Dr Angela Christiano is a leading light, has to be a close second.
Dr Christiano has recently been involved with at least two important studies into the use of JAK inhibitor drugs as possible future treatment options for Alopecia Areata and – most significantly- its more extreme and currently untreatable versions, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis.
It is thought this groundbreaking approach could well hold the key to a suite of new treatments that may provide the first truly effective treatments for baldness caused by AT and AU, as well as providing another option for treating AA. At Belgravia, Alopecia Areata treatment courses commonly involve topical applications of high strength minoxidil which frequently lead to impressive regrowth. New products based on JAK inhibitors could still be some years away from production.
Behind Male Pattern Baldness
Dr Guttman-Yassky’s 1.7 per cent figure puts Alopecia Areata some way behind Androgenetic Alopecia – better known as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss – in terms of how common it is. This hereditary condition affects up to 75 per cent of men in their lifetime, whilst figures are believed to be around 50% for women. Unlike Alopecia Areata, which causes hairs to shed rapidly when the body attacks healthy hair follicles in the mistaken belief that they are invading cells, genetic hair loss usually manifests itself over a much slower time-frame. In fact, it can take years or even decades for a man with a slightly receding hairline to go bald, whilst women tend to experience thinning hair around their temples, parting and crown but rarely to the point of baldness.
Although both androgenetic alopecia and Alopecia Areata cause hair loss, little is known about any further physiological similarities. Genetic hair loss in both men and women is caused by an inherited sensitivity to a testosterone by-product named DHT. This gradually cuts off the access of hair follicles located around the top of the scalp to proteins, vitamins and minerals and thus restricts their ability to produce hair. The net result, over time, is thinning hair as new hairs become ever finer. Eventually, new hairs stop emerging at all.
Lifestyle influences such as a smoking, nutritional deficiencies and stress are also known influencers of androgenetic alopecia. They have been found to trigger or worsen shedding from the condition.
Alopecia Areata is still something of an enigma and its precise cause is currently unknown. What is widely believed, however, is that the condition – especially in its mild-to-moderate form – can be sparked by a sudden trauma, severe stress and there is also likely to be a genetic element. Research is on-going as, once more is known about the disorder, the better the chance there is of finding a cure – or at least effective treatments for its more severe forms.
For now, anyone concerned by sudden hair fall or by gradually deteriorating hair density should seek specialist advice. A dedicated clinic can provide a diagnosis and steer you through the range of hair loss treatments that are likely to be most effective for your condition.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.