This is called alopecia, and there are different kinds of hair loss. This is the most usual kind of hair loss, called androgenetic alopecia. It’s more commonly known as “male pattern baldness.” An approximate 50 million men in the United States have this condition. It is caused by a gene that makes them more sensitive than other people to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
If you have androgenetic alopecia, you gradually lose a lot of hair on your head. Some types of alopecia are more specific to a part of your head. It’s like having hair loss, for example. A disease called alopecia areata causes your hair to fall out in spots. Patchy hair loss can be just as upsetting as diffuse hair loss because it is hard to treat, but it can be even more so.
Though there is no known cure for patchy hair loss, some treatments can slow hair loss and help you grow hair in areas that have been affected by it. Below, we’ve talked about patchy hair loss and what causes it, so read on to learn more. We’ve also talked about how to treat alopecia areata and grow back hair that the disease has damaged.
Patchy hair loss: What is it?
Some of your hair will fall out in spots because of alopecia areata. These patches are usually small, but the more patches you make, the more likely they will connect and create more extensive patches. This can even cause all hair to fall out, called alopecia Universalis. It usually affects the skin on the scalp, but it can also affect eyelashes, eyebrows, hair on your face, and different parts of your body, like your armpits.
In most cases, alopecia areata take a long time, but some people have had it happen quickly. Fortunately, hair loss caused by alopecia are usually temporary. The hair usually grows back in about a year. However, it is common for the condition to happen, and sometimes new patches of hair loss appear simultaneously as old patches start to grow back again.
What Causes Hair Loss in Patches?
At the moment, we don’t know the exact cause of alopecia areata. It is often called an autoimmune disease, even though we don’t know its reasons. It happens when the immune system thinks that healthy cells are foreign invaders. Your immune system is alleged to protect your body from bacteria and viruses, but it may attack healthy cells in some cases.
In the situation of alopecia areata, the body’s secure system attacks the hair follicles and makes them fall out. In this case, white blood cells damage and shrink hair follicles. Patchy hair loss happens when the hair follicles get smaller and stop making hair, which occurs over time. Again, the root cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but people with autoimmune diseases or family history are more likely to get it. For this reason, some scientists think that alopecia areata may be genetic.
How Can Patchy Hair Loss Be Treated?
Unfortunately, autoimmune hair loss is hard to treat, and scientists haven’t found a long-term cure yet. Because of this, the hair usually grows back in about 6 to 12 months, especially if it has been treated. The best way to treat alopecia areata is to keep the scalp from inflamed and help the hair grow back where an autoimmune reaction has damaged it.
The following are the top three hair loss treatments:
Treatments using Steroids
Corticosteroid injections are the most common way to treat alopecia areata. Corticosteroids have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and they can be injected into bald spots to stop the body’s immune system from fighting back. In a study that looked at 219 people, 82% of people with limited alopecia areata saw their hair grow back after intralesional corticosteroid treatment.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAF), corticosteroid injections work best for people who have a lot of hair loss (less than 50 percent). If the treatment causes new hair to grow, it usually shows up in four weeks.
Even better, there aren’t many side effects to this treatment, except for small depressions in the skin called dells that happen for a short time. People who might not be able to get intralesional injections may also be able to use topical steroids. The use of occlusive dressings may lead to a better response, leading to at least a 25% improvement in patients.
For people who don’t get the results they want from corticosteroid injections, topical treatments like minoxidil and anthralin might help. In the United States, minoxidil is sold under the brand name rogaine. This drug has been approved by the FDA and is thought to help with hair loss. If you have baldness, it won’t help your hair grow. It can, however, help your hair grow by increasing blood flow to your scalp and encouraging your hair follicle to join the increase phase.
The key to success with minoxidil is to keep using it. It would help if you used it every day to see and save the results. It’s another treatment for alopecia areata that you can put on your skin. Anthralin is one of them. Anthralin cream is a tar-like medication that is often used to treat psoriasis.
It can be applied to the patches and washed off after 15 to 20 minutes. Anthralin may help people with alopecia areata, but it may take longer to see results, and there is a chance that the scalp will become discolored and itchy.
Medications Taken Orally
In some cases, short-term oral corticosteroid treatment may help hair grow back in people who have alopecia areata. If you have alopecia areata, Prednisone is a good drug to take. It works well in the early stages of alopecia areata. More than half of people taking Prednisone saw “good-looking hair growth” in less than 2.5 months in a small study.
Because the immune system is involved, alopecia areata can be hard to deal with. It’s impossible to know for sure how the condition will affect you. It may grow back on its own in a few months, with or without treatment, if your hair loss isn’t terrible. In cases where many people lose their hair, however, the effects can last for a long time.
The cycle of hair growth is very complicated, and it can be slowed down or stopped by many different things, some of which you can’t control. An autoimmune disease, like alopecia areata, causes many hairs to fall out in clumps. It’s a shame, but there is no known cure for this condition, and there is no way to see how this will affect you.