Alopecia or hair loss can be devastating to many people. After all, there’s nothing like a head full of hear to connote youth, beauty and vibrancy. Alopecia occurs because of stress, medication or an immune system imbalance. There is also a genetic component to the condition since it tends to run in certain families. It commonly affects men, although women have been known to develop the condition also. Alopecia is different from male pattern baldness, although there will also be significant amounts of hair loss.
Here’s how to spot alopecia symptoms.
- Do you experience hair loss on the scalp? Does your hair fall out in clumps? When you comb or brush your hair, do you notice an unusual amount of hair fall? When you wake up in the morning, is your pillow covered with hair? When you shampoo or wash your hair, do you notice a large amount of it falls off and gets trapped in the drain? A normal person will lose about a hundred strands of hair a day, but those with alopecia will lose more, usually in clumps and in certain areas of the head forming bald spots.
- Are you losing hair on your eyebrows, beard, facial hair and hair on other parts of the body? Alopecia can also affect the hair on the face and body. If you notice your facial and body hair falling off also, you may have a condition. You’ll notice your body hair coming off as you remove your clothing or when you take a bath. On your face, you may notice bald spots on your eyebrows, mustache or beard.
- Do you have exclamation point hair? Get a magnifying glass and take a look at the hair on your scalp. On the areas where the area has fallen off, you will notice small straight strands of hair that looks like an exclamation point. This is another sign of alopecia. If you’re not sure, a doctor may verify this for you.
- Is your scalp itchy? Take a look or feel your hands on your scalp. Do you feel small red bumps on the scalp? Do you feel like your scalp is itchy? Do you notice some redness on the scalp? This may be a sign of alopecia, especially if after the redness, there is hair loss that follows.
- Are you still young? Alopecia can affect children, teens and people in their twenties and thirties. Typical hair loss occurs to men and women starting at about 40 to 50 years of age. However, for those suffering from alopecia, the hair loss can start dramatically as early as childhood, leaving patients bald by the time they are in their teens.
If you suspect you have alopecia, talk to your doctor right away. Don’t try to second guess or self medicate without talking to a physician first. Your hair loss may be a symptom of another medical condition rather than alopecia. To confirm your alopecia, a biopsy of the scalp may be done.
You may start some forms of treatment to deal with the hair loss. In half the cases, the hair will naturally grow back within a year. However, if it doesn’t grow back after about a year, you may be started on a hair care regimen that includes injection of steroids, using creams and specially formulated shampoos or use of cyclosporine. You may also explore using alternative medicine such as aromatherapy oils and using acupuncture to stimulate hair regrowth.