Baldness may be trendy for the likes of Michael Jordan and Amber Rose. Heck, even the half-bald-look is one of the coolest styles thanks to the likes of Kelly Osbourne (pictured). But when some people wake up to clumps of hair on their pillows, it’s not because they were dreaming they were GI Jane and it’s not even the consequence of a practical joke – it’s the result of a mysterious autoimmune disease called alopecia areata.
Waking up to discover you’re partly bald is obviously very distressing. Some people may have only one or two coin-sized bald patches while others may have a few or larger areas, and while it may be initially quite frightening, it does not signal any other physical illness or medical condition and does not always require treatment. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder which means your hair follicles can still produce hair but because, for whatever reason, they’re under attack by your own immune system, their ability to grow hair is temporarily suppressed.
Alopecia areata affects around one person in every 100 and roughly one in five of those will have inherited the condition. But it’s also been linked to a number of possible triggers, such as local skin injury, viral or bacterial infection, allergies, chemicals and stress. Stress, however, is often a consequential side effect of the condition which can make matters worse. So although in as much as 70% of cases hair may re-grow by itself, hair loss treatments may help the patient to deal with the only notable symptom.
The first thing you should do is inform your doctor and consult a hair loss specialist. There are clinically proven treatments for hair loss that help prevent the loss of and re-grow hair but because alopecia areata is not the result of the same causes of hereditary hair loss, it needs to be treated differently. There is no absolute cure for the condition but high strength minoxidil has been used to treat Belgravia’s Alopecia Areata clients to great effect.
Minoxidil is a clinically proven and medically approved hair loss treatment for the treatment of genetic hair loss in both men and women. However, Belgravia has seen significant regrowth results when using this treatment for other hair loss conditions too – you can see a number of real life examples in our Alopecia Areata Treatment Success Stories gallery.
Some of the other alopecia areata treatment options include steroid injections into the scalp to remove the damaging immune cells, puva or UV light therapy to speed up cell division and encourage hair growth, contact sensitisation to cause an allergic reaction on the scalp and divert the immune system’s attention or transplant surgery to cover up the bald patches. However, these treatment options aren’t guaranteed to work – the usual success rate is 10% or less – and can cause unpleasant side effects. These include suppression of the immune system and increasing the risk of skin cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, burning and itchiness, inflammation and skin discolouration.
As we’ve said before, alopecia areata does not always require treatment because in as many as 70% of cases, hair will grow back on its own within a year. However, if you’re unable to hide the bald patches or they’re an immediate concern to you, consulting a doctor and a hair loss specialist is the first step you need to take in order to get to the bottom of the condition and find out which method of treatment is right for you.
If you’d like to arrange a free appointment with a hair loss specialist, call the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 or send an email. If you can’t make it to the centre, fill in the online diagnostic form for expert knowledge and impartial advice on what would be the best plan of attack for your individual situation.