Alopecia Areata : Detailed Symptoms, Causes

Bajaj Finserv Health
February 24th, 2022
7 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • There are four different types of alopecia areata you need to know
  • Excessive hair loss is one of the major alopecia areata symptoms
  • A popular alopecia areata home remedy is rubbing onion juice on scalp

Alopecia areata is a condition that results in severe hair loss. In this autoimmune disorder, you may experience hair fall in small patches that increases over time. In extreme cases, it can result in complete loss of hair on the scalp or even on the entire body. Approximately 0.7% of people in India are affected by this condition [1]. It occurs when your immune system attacks hair follicles [2]. The trigger for this condition is your genetic constitution. 

While your hair may grow back after some time, there are chances for it to fall out again. People with a family history of this condition are at increased risk of developing alopecia areata. If you are suffering from hay fever, asthma or thyroid disease, you may be prone to this condition. Read on for further insight on this hair loss condition and its symptoms. 

Additional Read: Vitamins for Hair Growth

Alopecia areata causes

One of the main causes is the high WBC count, which attack your hair follicle cells. This results in slow hair growth causing them to shrink [3]. However, the exact reason of why your immune system attacks its own cells is unknown. Research reveals that genetics does play an important role. Though stress is also considered a cause of this condition, genetic factors play a more prominent role. If you have rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, you may develop this condition. When the hair fall occurs, you start to lose hair in clumps that take the shape of a quarter. 

Alopecia areata causes

Symptoms of alopecia areata

Hair loss is a major symptom of this condition. A few other alopecia areata symptoms include:

  • Excessive hair loss in winter
  • Small bald patches seen on your scalp
  • Intense hair loss in short time
  • Regrowth of hair in one part and hair loss at another
  • Small patches becoming large and turning into a bald spot

While your scalp is affected, you should keep a close watch on your fingernails and toenails as well. Here are the early signs and symptoms that may appear when you develop alopecia areata. 

  • Appearance of white spots and lines on your nails
  • Nails splitting and becoming thin
  • Presence of pinpoint dents
  • No more shine on nails
  • Nails becoming rough

There are a few other clinical signs you need to monitor as well:

  • Presence of white hair
  • Growth of short hair, narrow at the bottom
  • Excessive hair breakage

Additional Read: Winter Hair Fall 

Alopecia areta home remedies

Types of alopecia areata

There are different types of this condition based on the extent of hair loss. 

  • Alopecia totalis: In this condition, there is complete hair loss on your entire scalp.
  • Alopecia universalis: If you are facing this condition, you tend to lose your hair all over the body and face. You may have hair loss on eyebrows, eyelashes, chest and back as well. 
  • Diffuse alopecia areata: When there is an unexpected thinning of hair on your scalp and not just in one particular patch or area, it indicates you have this type of condition. 
  • Ophiasis alopecia: This condition occurs when lose hair on your lower back and along the sides of your scalp. 

Alopecia areata diagnosis

If you suspect having this condition, you can talk to your dermatologist. Here is the usual diagnosis process.

  • Doctors listen to your symptoms
  • They examine the areas where you are facing hair loss
  • Doctors check your nails, and pull your hair slowly to check if it breaks without much effort

In rare cases, you may have to undergo a biopsy or certain blood tests to check for thyroid or other hormonal problems.

Alopecia areata treatment

Though there is no permanent cure, the right treatment can help you regrow your hair. You may be asked to take corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory drugs specifically developed to treat autoimmune conditions. They may be given as an injection on the scalp or in the form of ointments. If there is excess hair loss, you may have to undergo topical immunotherapy. In this process, chemicals are applied on your scalp to produce allergic reactions. If the reactions work, your hair may regrow.

Additional Read: Yoga for Eyes

Alopecia areata management

To ensure that your hair growth is not affected, take care to reduce stress. You may do this by practicing yoga and meditation. Eat a healthy diet so that your body is not deprived of essential nutrients. Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sun glasses when you step out. Make sure that you cover your head with scarfs or hats when you go outside.

While alopecia areata causes hair loss, this condition can also affect your toenails and fingernails. Make sure not to miss these early warning signs. Timely diagnosis may help you manage the condition better. To address hair loss, connect to top doctors on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an online doctor consultation within minutes and resolve your queries.

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