Alopecia is an autoimmune skin disease that causes prominent hair loss on the scalp, face, or body. Because the condition is unpredictable and often cyclical, hair loss may last for years, or hair may repeatedly grow back and then fall out again. Dr. Rockoff, Dr. Wang, and their experienced team at Integrated Dermatology of Brookline specialize in providing comprehensive care for patients of all ages with alopecia. Call your nearest office in Brookline or Andover, Massachusetts, today, or book online anytime.
Alopecia is a relatively common skin disease that makes hair fall out in round patches. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles, causing them to shrink and become less viable. Although the affected hair follicles remain alive and active, the disease can drastically slow hair regrowth or put it on hold indefinitely.
Like all autoimmune diseases, alopecia is a highly individual disorder that affects each person differently. The three main types of alopecia are:
Alopecia areata, the most common form of the condition, causes one or more round, coin-sized bald patches on your scalp, face (beard), or elsewhere on your body.
This form of the disease causes the total loss of scalp hair.
People with this type of alopecia experience complete hair loss on their scalp, face, and body.
Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis are fairly rare; complete hair loss of the scalp or entire body only occurs in about 5% of all alopecia cases.
Alopecia affects up to 6.8 million people in the United States and about 147 million people worldwide. Although this chronic condition can develop at any age, most cases emerge during childhood.
Researchers aren’t yet sure what causes the immune system of an otherwise healthy person to attack hair follicles, causing alopecia. However, they strongly suspect that a person’s genetic makeup plays an important role, as the condition tends to run in families.
Alopecia isn’t considered an inherited illness; researchers believe that external (environmental) triggers also play a fundamental role in its development. They just don’t know exactly what those triggers are yet.
Although there’s no cure for alopecia, targeted treatment solutions can stimulate hair regrowth or help your hair regrow more quickly.
Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications that treat alopecia and promote hair regrowth by suppressing the immune system. Adults with alopecia areata are often given corticosteroid injections before trying other solutions. Children are more likely to receive topical corticosteroids or medicated lotions that are applied directly to bare areas of skin.
There are also other forms of medication that alter immune system function or stimulate hair regrowth. Many people receive a combination of treatments to boost their chances of achieving successful hair regrowth.
The team at Integrated Dermatology of Brookline can help you manage your condition and deal with the emotional aspects of hair loss. Call your nearest office or book an appointment online today.