How does alopecia areata manifest itself?
With alopecia areata, the hair on the head falls out, forming clear round or oval spots (foci, nests). At first, they are small, up to several millimeters in diameter, then increase in size. It happens that the bald skin swells, turns red, burning and itching may appear.
Hair growing along the edges of the affected area becomes thin, brittle, easily pulled out. If you examine such a hair and its root under a microscope, you can see that the stem tapers towards the base and, together with the dead root, resembles an exclamation mark. This type of hair is one of the main signs of alopecia areata.
The disease begins suddenly, it can develop for a long time and inactive, and it can very rapidly. It manifests itself at any age, but usually its peak falls on 15–35 years. Most often it affects brunettes. It proceeds in one of the following forms:
- locally: hairless “nests” appear on the head with clear rounded contours;
- ribbon-like: a whole “ribbon” of the scalp from the occiput to the temples becomes bald;
- subtotally: at first, small lesions appear all over the head, which over time increase and merge;
- totally: hair falls out all over the head, loss of eyelashes and eyebrows is possible.
The disease can last for years, then subsiding, then affecting new areas. There is a sudden cessation of the disease and complete restoration of hair in places where they had previously fallen out. Most often, periods of remission alternate with exacerbations. If the disease manifests itself for six months or longer, then they speak of a chronic disease.
Causes of the disease
Alopecia areata is one of those diseases, the exact cause of which has not yet been established.
Experts agree that the disease is most often of an autoimmune nature: for some reason, the body begins to consider hair follicles as foreign formations. Lymphocytes attack the cells of the follicle until they are destroyed. In patients with diagnosed alopecia areata, immunoglobulins are found in the structure of the hair follicles, various pathologies of immunity are revealed.
The reasons for triggering the autoimmune mechanism are varied:
- heredity (if your close relatives had symptoms of the disease, you are at risk);
- hormonal imbalance, malfunctions of the endocrine system;
- pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract, leading to malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies in the body;
- chronic infectious diseases: sinusitis, tonsillitis, caries, cytoplasmosis, etc.;
- frequent ARVI or other viral lesions;
- atopic dermatitis;
- diseases leading to changes in the composition of the blood – ischemic heart disease, pathology of the autonomic system;
- stressful mechanisms.
And this is not a complete list of ailments that provoke baldness. However, experts tend to consider alopecia areata as a multifactorial disease – that is, it usually occurs as a result of not one of the indicated causes, but their combination. Therefore, treatment for both women and men does not have a ready-made scheme, but requires an individual approach.