WHAT IS ALOPECIA?
IT IS ABSENCE OR LOSS OF HAIR
FORMS OF ALOPECIA
AREATA-BALD SPOTS PATCHY HAIR LOSS
TOTALIS-COMPLETELY BALD OR WITH
LITTLE VISIBLE HAIR ON SCALP
UNIVERSALIS-NO VISIBLE HAIR ON BODY
CICATRICIAL-SCARRING HAIR LOSS
Current evidence suggests that alopecia areata is caused by an abnormality
in the immune system. This particular abnormality leads to autoimmunity.
As a result, the immune system attacks particular tissues of the body. In
alopecia areata, for unknown reasons, the body's own immune system
attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair formation. Biopsies of
affected skin show immune cells inside of the hair follicles where they are
not normally present. What causes this is unknown. Alopecia areata is
sometimes associated with other autoimmune conditions such as allergic
disorders, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and
ulcerative colitis. Sometimes, alopecia areata occurs within family
members, suggesting a role of genes and heredity.
Is alopecia areata hereditary?
Yes, heredity plays a role. In one out of
five persons with alopecia areata,
someone else in the family also has it.
Those who develop alopecia areata for the
first time after the age of thirty years have
less likelihood that another family member
will have it. Those who develop their first
patch of alopecia areata before the age of
thirty have a higher possibility that other
family members will also have it.
Alopecia totalis is the loss of all head
hair. Its causes are unclear, but it is an
autoimmune disorder. Stress is sometimes
thought to be a contributor to the hair loss
caused by alopecia, however many people
leading relatively stress-free lives have
experienced the symptoms.
ALOPECIA TOTALIS (CONT’D)
In alopecia totalis, immune system cells
called white blood cells attack the rapidly
growing cells in the hair follicles that make
the hair. The affected hair follicles become
small and drastically slow down hair
production. Fortunately, the stem cells
that continually supply the follicle with
new cells do not seem to be targeted. So
the follicle always has the potential to
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
AREATA AND TOTALIS?
For all practical purposes, a few patches of hair loss is
called Alopecia areata; while total hair loss all over the
head, including eyebrows, eyes lashes is called Alopecia
The treatment approach is different and the prognosis is
also difference. That is, Alopecia Areata is treatable with
great success, while Alopecia totalis is not curable using
homeopathy. Steroids may help but superficially. Our
experience suggests that by use of steroids, most
patients get more spots elsewhere on the skin. Steroids
do not address internal autoimmune disorder. But, they
are very useful during acute attacks.
The most advanced form in a series of
conditions all related to the same disease,
Alopecia Universalis is characterized by
total a loss of body hair. A member of the
group of hair loss conditions called
Alopecia Areata, the only difference
between Alopecia Universalis and it's
variants is the extent of hair loss.
ALOPECIA UNIVERSASLIS (CONT’D)
Patients are usually otherwise healthy, but have more
thyroid disease and vitiligo than the general population.
Those with vitiligo (patchy loss of skin color) may also
develop AU in time. Many individuals with Alopecia
Universalis are born with some hair, but then begin
losing it very quickly. The disorder is inherited as an
autosomal recessive trait. It is caused by a mutation in a
gene dubbed HR in chromosome band 8p21.2 that is the
human homologue of the mouse "hairless" gene -- the
human version of the gene in the mouse that is
responsible for hairless mice.
ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS (CONT’D)
Is the "hairless" gene only found in people
with Alopecia Universalis? Most likely.
Based on the known research, we can
safely assume that only individuals with
this rare and severe form of Alopecia
Areata carry the gene. Unfortunately,
there have not been enough studies done
to verify that this is true of all those
ALOPECIA UNIVERSALIS (CONT”D)
Aside from genetic tendencies, the contributing causes of Alopecia
Universalis are not known. It is important that those with it are
careful to protect themselves from the sun, bacteria, and other
potentially harmful elements, as the scalp, nasal cavity and eyes are
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, other than
the hair, nails can also be affected. The nail involvement may be
limited to pinprick indentations, all the way to severe distortion of
the entire nail. Alopecia Universalis may be acute and short-lived, or
remain permanently. The possibility of regrowth does remain
however, even for those with 100% hair loss for many years.
Predicting when regrowth may occur is not currently possible.
ALOPECIA IN CHILDREN
Hair loss in children is actually not very common,
however it is significant enough that nearly 2 Million
children suffer from at least one form of Alopecia (hair
loss) or another in the United States alone. The good
news is that at least 60% of children with Alopecia will
"outgrow" the condition without need for treatment. As
with all forms of Alopecia, a reversal and complete
restoration of hair takes time - sometimes up to a year
or more, but for the vast majority of children, it will
spontaneously resolve. The bad news is that 40% wont
have such luck, which can be quite frustrating both for
the parents and the child affected by this often
cosmetically embarrassing condition.
CHILDREN WITH ALOPECIA
Please keep in mind: hair loss in children is not due to vitamin
deficiencies (unless extreme malnutrition is present), poor scalp
circulation, headbands, hats, or cold weather. Diagnosis is typically
as simple as an evaluation of the risk factors a visual examination of
the type of loss, and some tests your doctor can perform.
Alopecia is not life-threatening, and children who have it are
otherwise healthy. Why the hair falls out from the roots is still a
mystery. What is known is that the condition is not contagious,
caused by foods, or the result of nervousness, hyperactive
disorders, or psychological stress. In 20% of cases another family
member has been affected. Some patients with this condition will
also develop a grid-like pitting of the nails.
The cause of the various cicatricial alopecias is
poorly understood. However, all cicatricial
alopecias involve inflammation directed at the
hair follicle, usually the upper part of the follicle
where the stem cells and sebaceous gland (oil
gland) are located. If the stem cells are
destroyed, and the sebaceous gland as well,
there is then no possibility for regeneration of
the hair follicle and permanent hair loss results.
WEBSITES AND SUPPORT GROUPS
CHILDRENS ALOPECIA PROJECT
NATIONAL ALOPECIA AREATA
WEBMD FOR INFO
GOOGLE – ALOPECIA AND FIND OTHER
DEDICATED TO JOSE CHARQUENO