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Alopecia Areata Symptoms

Are you facing the challenge of unexpected hair loss, leaving you bewildered and anxious? Has your hair dresser noticed coin sized, round circular patches of hair loss on your scalp? You might be dealing with alopecia areata, a prevalent condition affecting millions globally. Alopecia is not a singular disorder but a spectrum of hair loss conditions. Each type of alopecia presents unique symptoms of hair loss.

From patchy bald spots to total hair loss, understanding the symptoms is the first step towards regaining control of your hair health. Discover the intricacies of alopecia and empower yourself against this hair-raising mystery.

Understanding Alopecia Types

  1. Alopecia Areata

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    Alopecia Areata is the most common form, presenting as smooth, circular patches of hair loss mainly on the scalp. In this condition, the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to inflammation and thereby hair loss. While the precise triggers for the immune attack on hair follicles is not clearly known, researchers suggest a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

    According to a 2020 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly 80% of alopecia cases are categorised as early-stage alopecia areata symptoms.

  2. Alopecia Totalis

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    For about 5% of alopecia patients, Alopecia Totalis manifests as complete scalp hair loss, as reported in the International Journal of Trichology (2019).

    People with alopecia areata experience heightened emotional distress due to this severe form of the condition.This complete loss of hair from the scalp can be seen at any age, including in young children. It has extended emotional ramification at any age, although younger people experience more social anxiety because of it.

  3. Alopecia Universalis

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    Alopecia Universalis, the rarest type, causes complete body hair loss in less than 1% of those with alopecia (International Journal of Trichology, 2019). This is a condition where the individual suffering loses hair from all over the body, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, groin, arm pits, chest etc.

The table below lists signs and symptoms of alopecia along with its forms.

Alopecia totalis Alopecia universalis Diffuse alopecia areata Nail disease
Affects up to 5% of the affected individuals Affects less than 1% of the total cases of alopecia areata Sudden diffuse thinning of the scalp hair Affects 10-50% of the people with alopecia areata
All scalp hair is lost resulting in baldness All the hair on the entire body is lost Regular pitting and ridging of nails is the most common finding and alopecia symptom

Sign and Symptoms of Alopecia

Alopecia refers to hair loss, and it can cause in various patterns and present with different symptoms depending on the specific type. Here are some common types of alopecia and their associated signs and symptoms of alopecia hair loss:

Androgenetic Alopecia (Male and Female Pattern Baldness)

  1. Hair Loss Patterns

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    In men, it often starts with a receding hairline and thinning at the crown, forming an "M" shape. In women, it typically causes diffuse thinning over the crown.

  2. Rate of Hair Loss

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    The hair loss in this condition is gradual and progressive over time.

  3. Scalp Changes

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    Usually, the scalp appears normal, without redness or itching.

  4. Other Associated Symptoms

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    Generally, no other symptoms are present, but some may experience increased shedding during hair washing or brushing.

Alopecia Areata

  1. Hair Loss Patterns

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    Sudden development of round or oval patches of hair loss. It can occur on the scalp or other body hair. The hairdresser is usually the first person to notice the hair loss.

  2. Rate of Hair Loss

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    Rapid onset of hair loss, but it may be temporary, and hair can regrow.

  3. Moving patches

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    Patches that appear, fill up and then reappear in different place is is confirmatory sign of alopecia areata.

  4. Exclamation mark hair

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    This is a confirmatory sign of alopecia areata. The hair undergoes changes making the base of the hair thinner than the hair tip, thus looking like an exclamation mark. This is not seen with the naked eye, but can be seen by our doctors on the Video Microscope.

  5. Scalp Changes

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    The scalp may appear normal or show mild redness and itching in affected areas.

  6. Ophiasis pattern

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    This is a particular pattern seen in Alopecia areata. Here hairloss in usually seen at the back portion of the head, above the nape of the neck.

  7. Other Associated Symptoms

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    Some people may experience tingling or itching in the affected areas. In severe cases, total hair loss (alopecia totalis) or loss of all body hair (alopecia universalis) may occur.

  8. Associated diseases

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    Thyroid disease is often associated with alopecia areata and can be found on a blood test.

Telogen Effluvium

  1. Hair Loss Patterns

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    Diffuse thinning and shedding of hair from all over the scalp.

  2. Rate of Hair Loss

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    Rapid onset, often triggered by a specific event or stressor.

  3. Scalp Changes

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    The scalp usually appears normal.

  4. Other Associated Symptoms

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    Telogen effluvium is often associated with a triggering event, such as childbirth, surgery, or severe stress. Hair loss is temporary, and regrowth usually occurs after addressing the underlying cause.

Traction Alopecia

  1. Hair Loss Patterns

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    Typically seen at the hairline or in areas subjected to constant pulling or tension (e.g., tight hairstyles, hair extensions).

  2. Rate of Hair Loss

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    Gradual hair loss over time, associated with continued tension on the hair.

  3. Scalp Changes

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    The scalp may show signs of inflammation, redness, or soreness in affected areas.

  4. Other Associated Symptoms

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    Symptoms may include headaches or discomfort in the affected areas due to continuous pulling.

Scarring Alopecia (Cicatricial Alopecia)

  1. Hair Loss Patterns

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    Hair loss is accompanied by scarring and destruction of hair follicles.

  2. Rate of Hair Loss

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    Gradual and irreversible.

  3. Scalp Changes

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    Scarring, inflammation, and changes in skin texture may be visible on the scalp.

  4. Other Associated Symptoms

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    Itching, pain, or burning sensations may be present in affected areas. Scarring alopecia can result from various causes, including autoimmune conditions.

It's important to note that these descriptions provide a general overview, and individual experiences may vary. If someone is experiencing significant hair loss or changes in their scalp, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and appropriate management.

Alopecia Areata Signs of Regrowth

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease characterized by hair loss in small, circular patches. The regrowth of hair in individuals undergoing alopecia areata treatment can be considered a positive indication of the body's ability to recover. Here are some signs of regrowth in alopecia areata:

  • Fuzzy or Velvety Hair: Initially, regrowing hair may appear soft, fuzzy, or velvety. These fine hairs, known as vellus hairs, can be an early indication of regrowth.
  • Pigmentation: As the new hair grows, it may initially lack color or appear lighter than the surrounding hair. Over time, the pigmentation may return to match the natural color of the individual's hair.
  • Itching or Tingling Sensation: Some people experience itching or a tingling sensation in the affected areas before regrowth occurs. This could be a positive sign that the hair follicles are becoming active.
  • Visible Hair Growth: Over time, regrowing hairs will become more visible, extending beyond the initial fuzzy stage. Keep an eye for small strands of hair emerging in the areas where hair loss occurred.
  • Increased Thickness: As regrowth progresses, the hair may become thicker and more robust. Initially, the regrown hair might be finer, but it should gradually gain thickness and strength.
  • Recovery of Hairline: For those with alopecia areata affecting the hairline, regrowth along the hairline is a positive sign of improvement. Monitoring the edges of the affected areas can help track the progress.

It's important to note that regrowth can vary from person to person, and not everyone with alopecia areata will experience the same signs or timeline of regrowth. Additionally, some individuals may experience spontaneous recovery, while others may require medical intervention for optimal results. 

If you have concerns about your hair loss or regrowth, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment options.

Homeopathy for Alopecia Areata

Homeopathy offers a holistic and individualized approach to Alopecia Areata, addressing the autoimmune factors contributing to hair loss. Homeopathy hair regrowth treatment aim to stimulate the body's natural healing processes, targeting the root cause of patchy hair loss.

The signs of hair regrowth observed during homeopathic treatment, including the emergence of velvety hair and increased thickness, indicate positive responses to stop hair to fall. While individual experiences may vary, consulting with a qualified homeopathic practitioner is crucial for personalized treatment for alopecia areata. Homeopathy presents a promising avenue for those seeking a natural and comprehensive approach to managing Alopecia Areata.

A study conducted in house, showed that the relapse rate of alopecia areata with homeopathy was significantly lower than any other treatment. Thereby showing that homeopathy offers a long term cure for alopecia areata. It’s also important to know that homeopathy comes without any side effects as opposed to other treatments for alopecia areata such as topical immunotherapy.

Medically Reviewed

Dr. Tejal Ajmera, MD
Experience: 26+ years

Qualification

  • M.D(Homoeopathy) (Rep) (M.U.H.S) - Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

  • F.C.H Dermatology(Affiliated to M.U.H.S) - Maharashtra University of Health Sciences

  • F.M. Cosmetology - (Indo-german university)

  • Dermatology, Cosmetology, Oncology, Paediatrics

  • CC-Healthcare management - ISB

FAQs

How do you know if you have alopecia?

The most important sign and symptom of alopecia areata is excessive hair loss that can be seen on the pillow and in the shower drain. The hair loss often appears as a round bald patch on the scalp. This condition is an auto-immune disorder that develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss in patches. There are several contributory factors and underlying medical conditions that cause alopecia. These factors can be hormonal changes, emotional/physical stress, eczema and even diabetes.

What are the main alopecia symptoms?

The main sign and symptom of alopecia is hair loss that appears in small patches on the scalp. These patches might also occur on other parts of the face, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard.

How long does it take for alopecia to go away?

Alopecia areata (AA) causes hair loss in small patches that generally appear on the scalp. Usually, the bald spots appear suddenly and hair grows back within 12 months or less. But some people may experience severe alopecia symptoms that may result in complete baldness. Homeopathic treatment is known to aid in hair regrowth as it contains natural DHT [dihydrotestosterone]-inhibitors, making homeopathy a proven and effective hair treatment.

How do you stop alopecia?

Alopecia symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes and improved nutrition. Healthy foods that are rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids are recommended to facilitate hair growth. Dr Batra’s ® NutriGood – for Hair Care helps you improve the intake of nutrients along with promoting hair growth. It is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B Complex and Zinc that reduces hair loss and enhances hair quality. It also helps in reducing inflammation, increases blood circulation, boosts oxygen supply and repairs damaged hair follicles. Visit: https://products.drbatras.com/products/dr-batra-s%C2%AE-nutrigood-for-hair-care

Does Alopecia cause itching?

Although they can occur independently, there may sometimes be a link between alopecia and scalp itching. Fungal infections, allergic reactions to hair products and inflamed hair follicles can cause itchy scalp, damaging hair follicles further leading to hair loss. In other cases, if a person’s hair loss has led to the formation of scar tissue, this may also be a cause of itching. Similarly, alopecia areata is a condition that can cause scalp itchiness, burning and tingling.

How does alopecia start?

Alopecia can start in different ways, depending on the type of alopecia a person is experiencing. The most common type is alopecia areata, which typically begins with small, bald patched of hair loss on the scalp. In some cases, hair loss may be sudden and rapid, while in others, it may progress gradually. Other types of alopecia, such as androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness) or traction alopecia (resulting from hairstyles that pull on the hair), have their own distinctive patterns of onset.

At what age does alopecia begin ? Can it also be seen in children ?

Developing alopecia areata is not limited to a specific age group. Alopecia areata often first appears during childhood or adolescence, but it can affect people of all ages. Androgenetic alopecia, which is more common in adults, may start in the late teens or early twenties and progress with age. It's essential to note that there is no set age for alopecia onset, and factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, and environmental influences can contribute to its development at various stages of life.


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