How Do I Know If I Have Alopecia Areata?

The unpredictable hair loss and regrowth of alopecia areata can be challenging, and the symptoms can mimic other conditions. So, how do you know for sure you have it? A diagnosis can only be made by a physician, such as a dermatologist. However, by knowing the symptoms and causes, you can be on your way to solving your hair loss mystery.

Definitions and Symptoms

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. Meaning that the body’s immune system attacks otherwise healthy tissues and causes damaging inflammation. In alopecia, the hair follicles on the scalp, eyebrows, and any other places hair can grow are attacked. It often begins in childhood, though it can happen at any age. Symptoms include:

  • Patchy Hair Loss– Different types of hair loss can be caused by alopecia. They are:
    • Alopecia Areata– Hair loss in patches.
    • Alopecia Totalis– Total hair loss on the scalp.
    • Alopecia Universalis– The loss of all hair on the entire body.
  • Nail Problems– Alopecia can cause finger and toenail issues. Nails can have small dents, white spots, and rough areas on them.

The cause of alopecia can be different things such as genetics and having other autoimmune conditions like lupus, chrons disease, Grave’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

When to See Your Dermatologist

With alopecia, hair often re-grows on its own. There is no telling when, however. If the hair thinning and loss is affecting your appearance to the point where you are bothered by it, or you don’t want to wait out the regrowth, it’s time to see the dermatologist.

Accurate diagnosis involves looking at hair samples under the microscope and taking a skin biopsy from the area. If other conditions are suspected, blood tests may be ordered as well.

Treatment options

Today’s treatment options aim to restart the regrowth more quickly by lessening the inflammation, reducing the build-up of skin cells, and removing the plaques. Treatment types are topical, light therapy, systemic medications, and steroid injections into the affected areas. Each person’s results vary. For some, the condition never returns, while for others, the cycle of hair loss and regrowth continues for years.

There is no cure for alopecia currently. If you or someone you love is struggling with alopecia areata, the dermatologists at ForCare are available to help diagnose and treat the symptoms of alopecia. To schedule an appointment, call 813-960-2400 today.

Clinical research studies evaluating potential new alopecia treatments are also currently enrolling. To learn more about alopecia research studies and find out how to get involved, CLICK HERE.