Alopecia Treatment in Laurel, MD
Alopecia broadly refers to hair loss. Specifically, alopecia causes a kind of hair loss whereby a person's hair falls out due to a mistaken immune system attack on hair follicles, the organs responsible for hair production and facilitating hair growth. Alopecia areata, the most common form of alopecia which accounts for 95% of alopecia cases, is associated with patchy hair loss. Patients with alopecia areata will experience clumps of hair falling from their scalp, leaving behind 1 or more coin-sized, smooth, round patches of exposed skin. In some cases, hair will fall out and grow back again, only for it to fall out again. This cycle could occur quickly, or hair loss may be experienced for years.
There are also two other, less common, kinds of alopecia: alopecia totalis refers to the loss of all the hair on the scalp, while alopecia universalis refers to the loss of all hair on the body.
Unfortunately, there is no known alopecia cure, but there are a variety of treatment options available to alopecia patients and some options even exist to stimulate the growth of new hair. If you are experiencing hair loss, it is important to meet with a healthcare provider who can determine and address the underlying cause of your hair loss. Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Laurel that specializes in alopecia treatment. Call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity refers to when the body mistakenly attacks its own cells, attempting to protect itself from what it mistakes as threatening foreign invaders. Alopecia causes the body to attack hair follicles, leading to hair falling out in patches. Additionally, some patients experience alopecia hereditarily, meaning that a family member has the disease and spreads it genetically to the child.
Your healthcare provider will likely begin your appointment by taking a medical history and conducting a physical examination. Questions will likely be asked concerning your hair loss, including the look and pattern of your hair loss. If your healthcare provider suspects that alopecia ails you, tests to confirm a diagnosis may include:
- Hair analysis, in which a sample of hair is taken and examined under a microscope. A scalp sample might also be taken.
- Blood tests, including testing for a specific condition such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
Unfortunately for patients with alopecia, the condition can be a life-long struggle. Alopecia treatment exists to potentially regrow hair and to quell the immune system, but, with no known cure, refraining from treatment may lead to recurrent hair loss due to your immune system's ongoing reaction. Treatment options available to you include:
- Corticosteroids, which can be injected into the scalp or other areas, taken orally or applied topically as an ointment, cream or foam. Corticosteroids suppress the immune system, limiting the likelihood of recurrent autoimmune attacks.
- Topical immunotherapy: for cases of excessive hair loss, this treatment uses chemicals which are applied to the scalp to produce an allergic reaction. This reaction in turn causes new hair to grow.
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) may be used by itself or in conjunction with topical corticosteroids and is applied to the scalp to stimulate hair regrowth.
- Medications to treat autoimmune disorders
While alopecia isn't usually a serious medical condition, it can be the cause of much stress, anxiety and sadness. Support groups exist to cope with the psychological effects associated with the condition.
A healthcare provider can address and treat the underlying cause of your hair loss. To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Laurel that specializes in alopecia treatment, call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
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