What causes AA?
AA is an autoimmune disease meaning it is caused by one’s own immune system. Autoimmune diseases are common encompassing many medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, thyroid disease, lupus etc. AA is seen most commonly in children and young adults but can affect any age. The cause of AA is not fully understood but is seen in association with other autoimmune conditions. The body’s immune cells usually do not interact with the hair follicle cells however in AA this is not the case.
Is it to do with my diet?
There is no proven link with diet and AA. Some studies suggest taking multi vitamins especially zinc and selenium may help. Dr Nelson will generally check basic blood tests including zinc and iron levels. If you have a normal healthy diet it is unlikely there is an imbalance in these trace elements but supplementation with over the counter products should not cause any harm.
What does AA look like?
It can be very mild ranging from just a few coin shape areas of hair loss to complete hair loss of the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or even the entire body (alopecia universalis).
What treatments are there for AA?
Topical and intradermal steroid injections can be very effective in alopecia areata. Depending on the extent of hair loss topical treatments can be started by your GP however some GPs are hesitant to prescribe very strong topical steroid creams. Steroid injections can also be very effective. Injection of steroid directly into the area of hair loss every month can help speed up hair regrowth. Repeated injections into the same sight can lead to skin dimpling and redness as a side effect of the steroid. This is however often only mild and can improve with time.
Dr Nelson will first need to establish the type of alopecia you have before recommending the best treatment.