The results of a new Korean study investigating the mortality risks associated with Alopecia Areata patients has produced some interesting findings.
Researchers examined data for 73,107 patients with all forms of this autoimmune disorder, which causes varying degrees of hair loss to different areas of the body, from bald spots on the scalp to complete baldness from head-to-toe.
This was then compared to age- and sex-matched control subjects as part of the nationwide population-based cohort study.
Three key high mortality risk areas were identified in the study findings, which were published on the JAMA Dermatology website on 29th May 2019.
The risk of death through intentional self-harm or psychiatric disorders was found to be higher in patients with any form of Alopecia Areata than in the control group.
Malignant smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, were seen to have a higher mortality risk only for people with the more extensive phenotypes, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis. These cause baldness of the head, usually including a loss of eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair as well as scalp hair, and a complete rejection of hair from head to toe, respectively.
There was, however, a lower mortality risk associated with diabetes mellitus seen in Alopecia Areata patients. Interestingly, researchers have previously likened Alopecia Areata to 'diabetes of the hair follicle'.
"Given the large scale of the project, its findings demonstrate an important point for patients with Alopecia Areata and their mental health. However, the research did only focus on one country so may not be wholly representative of Alopecia Areata patients' experiences elsewhere in the world," advises Belgravia hair loss specialist, Rali Bozhinova.
"Aspects that are certainly worth paying attention to are that it is important for people to manage their mental health as well as they manage their physical health, particularly given there are numerous studies that have already established links between psychiatric disorders and all forms of Alopecia Areata. Whilst hair loss can often be considered 'cosmetic', there are often far deeper psychological effects associated with this sudden onset condition that should not be ignored," she notes.
"Additionally, giving up smoking is one of the key takeaways from this study and that is always a good message to spread, for our general health and hair quality, regardless of whether a person has Alopecia or not."
Even with Alopecia Areata treatments currently available for the scalp-only phenotype, and the first authorised hair loss solutions for Alopecia Totalis and Universalis regrowth expected to be released in the next few years, these findings are a good reminder that it is important people take care of their general health - both mental and physical.
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