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What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder. It involves your immune system attacking your own body, specifically your hair follicles. This results in hair loss, and for many people, embarrassment. Although this condition cannot technically be cured, there are several different treatment options out there. You are invited to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and potential treatments.

What are the Symptoms?

The most obvious symptom of this condition is hair loss. Some people lose hair all over, while others lose it in clumps. Although it is rare, it is possible to lose all of the hair on your head, which is known as alopecia areata totalis. It is also possible to lose all of the hair on your body, which is known as alopecia areata universalis. For some people, their hair grows back and then falls out in a cycle. Some people are lucky enough to have their hair grow back for good. When hair does grow back, it may be white. You may also get what is known as “exclamation mark hairs,” where the hair that grows in is narrower at the bottom.

This condition can also impact the fingernails and toenails. In some cases, these symptoms appear first and are a warning sign of things to come. Changes that happen to the nails include:

  • White lines and spots appearing on the nails
  • Small dents appearing
  • Nails losing their shine or becoming rough
  • Nails splitting
  • Nails becoming very thin

What Causes Alopecia?

Although it is not known exactly what causes this autoimmune disorder, it is known that people with alopecia have white blood cells that go after hair follicles. There does seem to be a genetic factor. Roughly one in five people who have this condition have a close family member who also has it. Having other autoimmune disorders, such as atopy, can also increase your risk. For many years, it was widely believed that stress caused alopecia. Recent research has pointed away from that and more toward genetic factors. That being said, extreme stress may trigger alopecia in people prone to the condition.

Treatments for Alopecia

Learn more about alopecia and the treatment options available to you by reaching out to Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser. We will gladly schedule you for a consultation, where we can sit down and discuss your needs while developing a treatment plan. Contact us today to book your appointment at one of our offices in Midtown, Harlem, or Arlington Heights.