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Bald Spots and Random Patches: What is alopecia areata?

Bald Spots and Random Patches: What is alopecia areata?
07 October 2020
2-minute read

If you’ve experienced your hair falling out in the shower or wake up with hair on your pillow and have small discrete patches of hair loss, you could be suffering from alopecia areata. There is no known cure for this disease, but there are a number of treatments which can help to reduce the effects. With all this in mind, what does the disorder actually do?

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles causing your hair to fall out. As with most diseases, sufferers of alopecia areata tend to experience the condition differently. While some may regularly lose hair in big chunks, others will experience it at a slower pace or in a more spontaneous nature. If you notice hair falling out in the shower or find some on your pillow, it could be a sign that you are suffering with hair loss - depending on the pattern, this could simply be male pattern hair loss, more information on which can be found here. If you start to notice patchy areas on the scalp in a random manner, you may be suffering with alopecia areata and should consult with your GP who may refer you to a dermatologist. The patches can differ, but are usually round and can be 3-4cm in diameter with no hair growing at all in that patch.

What are common treatments for alopecia areata?

Even though alopecia can’t be cured, hair can start to grow back with effective treatment. After a discussion with your doctor you may be prescribed auto-immune medication such as corticosteroids, which can help to pull back the immune system from causing more damage. There are smaller lifestyle changes you can use which can also affect the severity of alopecia. Changing to a more balanced diet can ease the disorder while also improving your overall health. Also, reducing your stress levels with meditation can be helpful.

Does minoxidil help alopecia areata?

Whilst Minoxidil does not help to treat alopecia areata, it can help to treat a specific form of the disease called alopecia barbae, which causes hair loss around the beard. Minoxidil is a topical solution which is one of the only medications which is FDA-approved to treat hair loss. 

At Sons, we recommend a 5% Minoxidil topical solution as this is proven to be the most effective strength to treat hair loss. It should be applied consistently twice a day to the affected area, and results should begin to show after three month or so.

Final words

The emotional hurdles that come with alopecia can feel like another obstacle to overcome and coping with the condition effectively can be really difficult. Always bear in mind that you’re not alone; 2 in every 2000 people deal with alopecia in the UK. Support groups exist to help and online forums can be a great place to discuss the effects of the disease. If you’re feeling self-conscious, there’s no shame in wearing hats or other forms of coverings until you feel more comfortable - discussing your concerns with your barber to minimise the appearance of alopecia can also help..

More than anyone else, we understand the damage to your mental health that hair loss can cause. Alopecia is a disease that can significantly dampen self-esteem but it’s important not to give up hope. With effective treatment and lifestyle changes, you can limit the condition’s symptoms and take back your confidence.

All of our blog articles are reviewed by our Medical Director before publication.