Millions of people all over the world struggle with alopecia, a specific type of hair loss that is caused by your own immune system mistakenly attacking hair follicles on your head.
A clinical condition that impacts men and women alike equally, but more and more women are surprised to learn that they are losing their hair because of alopecia than men. Most men just kind of anticipate that they’ll eventually lose at least some of their hair, while women most definitely taken by surprise.
Thankfully, most hair loss is not permanent, unless the actual follicles that are attacked become permanently damaged and unable to regrow once the immune system is “fixed”. There are a number of other things that contribute directly to the amount of alopecia hair loss that you might have to deal with, as well as a handful of things that you’ll be able to do in order to avoid or prevent this condition from taking root in the first place.
Shall we jump right in?
What exactly is alopecia hair loss and what causes it?
As mentioned above, alopecia hair loss is caused by a triggering in your immune system that causes normal and healthy cells to begin attacking your hair follicles from the inside out. Scientific experts and medical researchers still do not exactly understand why the immune system is “triggered” to attack your hair follicles, though they do know that most people are going to have to fight through this condition in their early 20s – presentation of hair loss symptoms later in life are quite rare.
Some experts suggest the following causes can be linked closely to alopecia, though more research is definitely needed to determine the root causes:
- A genetic predisposition of hair loss.
- Autoimmune diseases or medical conditions.
- Have already had extensive hair loss stemming from genetic issues.
- Abnormal hair follicle growth that may result in a unhealthy hair.
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
As far as symptoms go, most people are going to begin to recognize that they are dealing with alopecia hair loss when they find their hair thinning – usually by looking in the mirror right after a shower, when the hair is wet and matted down to the head. The hair loss can be partial or complete, and the patterns varied or symmetrical.
This is when hair loss is most obvious, as gaps in your hair are going to be more pronounced. Remember, alopecia attacks hair follicles and causes them to become stunted, so you aren’t going to have all that many bald spots – though you are going to have hair that is significantly lighter, thinner, and much weaker (not to mention shorter) than the rest of the surrounding hair.
Some people are going to have to fight through alopecia areata, a condition that also impacts fingernails and toenails as well as your hair. Thankfully, this medical condition is significantly rarer than having just alopecia on its own, though you’ll want to speak to a medical professional if you notice pitting or damage to your fingernails and toenails when you notice hair loss or hair thinning.
Treatment options for those struggling with hair loss
There is currently no cure for alopecia, though there are a number of treatment solutions that you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of to prevent this condition from happening in the first place as well as to help restore your immune system back to balance.
The first thing that you’re going to want to do is immediately stop using any hair straightening chemicals or hair straightening instruments that use heat to “iron out” your hair, as those both have been linked closely to accelerated alopecia hair loss.
Secondly, most experts are going to recommend that you wear a hairnet while you shower, in order to protect your hair follicles that have been weakened by alopecia so that the water and the force of the shower doesn’t pull them from their roots.
Hairnets will keep everything stabilized while at the same time giving you the chance to clean and wash your hair, though you’ll want to be sure that you aren’t using any strong chemicals or detergents in shampoo that might accelerate your hair loss, either.
Finally, you’ll want to take advantage of any and all immune boosting supplements or medical interventions that a doctor can recommend/prescribed for you. Because hair loss is, at its core, an autoimmune condition, you’re going to need to get your immune system back on track if you’re to have any chance of reversing the hair loss problems that you’ve already begun to notice.
As mentioned above, most people (the overwhelming majority of people, in fact) that deal with alopecia aren’t going to have to worry about permanent hair loss. The hair that they have lost will almost certainly grow back, though it may take anywhere between six months and 18 months before noticeable and appreciable differences are detected.
There are a handful of different solutions that you can take advantage of to hide your alopecia hair loss, including hairpieces, extensions and hair weaving (though you have to be careful with both of these options when you have alopecia), and using specific hair care products and different styling techniques to fill in your thinner spots without anyone being the wiser.
Hopefully you have found the inside information above regarding alopecia to be helpful in fighting back against this insidious condition. If you’ve had to deal with alopecia in the past, or know someone that has, please detail your experience below or share the info above and maybe you’ll be the help someone fight back as well!