Symptoms of Alopecia areata
The disease is characterised by non-scaring hair loss, meaning it does not cause scarring to the scalp, the scalp skin looks normal retaining its usual colour. Symptoms include signs like “pitting” or “stippling” (rows of tiny dents) on your nails; both your finger and toenails may be present.
It is not a life-threatening disease and causes no physical pain. It is the cosmetic effects that can cause significant concern or emotional stress, affecting self-confidence and reducing the desire to socialise, especially if the condition cannot be easily disguised by hairstyle or subtle accessory. Sufferers can experience repeat episodes.
The alopecia areata pattern typically appears as one or more bald patches on the scalp, tending to be round, large coin-sized shapes, Other hair growing parts of the body can also be affected, including the beard, eyebrows, body and limbs and even the eyelashes. Some people can be affected more seriously, causing total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or hair loss from the entire body (alopecia universalis).
The hair loss patches can develop quickly and occasionally are accompanied by some mild redness, itchy or mild burning sensation, caused by the inflammation of the hair follicles. See this sites research on what causes or triggers alopecia areata for more information.
The area of hair loss is usually quite smooth. For some sufferers, the patches can contain areas of unaffected white hairs, or hairs broken off near the surface of the skin. These are called “exclamation hairs”. The reason white hairs are unaffected is believed to be due to this autoimmune skin disease only affecting hair with pigment, colour.
As this condition is non-scarring, the hair follicles and follicular openings are undamaged, therefore the hair could regrow with treatment (or sometimes without any treatment at all), assuming related triggers have been managed or removed.
How is alopecia areata diagnosed?
Diagnosis of alopecia areata can begin with a visual inspection of the affected area, which is usually smooth or can contain unaffected non-pigmented hairs. A slight redness can be detected if an itchy sensation is present. Finger and toe Nails can also be examined for tell-tale signs of pitting or stippling.
A hair pull test can be considered as positive of active disease if more than six hairs are pulled out from the edge of an affected area.
Clinical observation findings are the most common diagnostic method for alopecia areata. If there is further doubt, a scalp biopsy (small sample of skin) can be taken to look under the microscope, by performing a skin scraping and plucking of hairs from the edge of the affected area, to then rule out tinea.
A blood test can also be performed to check for other autoimmune diseases if you have certain other symptoms. The blood tests can check antibody count and look at thyroid function, or rule out lupus or syphilis.
There are many emerging products on the market, ranging from those that claim to reduce the symptoms and encourage hair regrowth, to those that just help mask or conceal the patches of hair loss. The below links are for some of these popular products, the claims and endorsements are not those of alopeciaareara.co.uk. Always seek advice from your doctor, professional medical practitioner or skin specialist.
Concealers or masking of hair loss: –
THK Hair Building Fibres Dark Brown 25g Instantly Makes Hair Fuller & Thicker
World’s first wholly plant-derived hair building fibre gives the best indiscernible bond with natural hair. Bactericide-free and preservative-free are safe to use for all hair loss conditions and will not cause skin irritation. Colourfast, neither product nor dye will not migrate onto skin or clothing
BOOSTnBLEND Medium Brown Hair Loss Scalp Concealer for Women with thinning hair.
Hair loss concealer makes thin or thinning hair appear up to ten times thicker. Shake on and blend in with fingers to instantly make thin or thinning hair appear thicker. Over 100 applications in one bottle. One bottle of BOOSTnBLEND will last 4-6 months. Instant scalp concealer for women. Designed by women, for women. Made from the latest technology natural cotton (no keratin chemicals).