Alopecia is a form of hair loss which tends to affect young men in particular. And everyone who’s suffered from it knows how unpleasant these round bald spots can be. We explain what causes it, and what you can do to help
A gorgeous head of hair is a woman’s crowning glory. Only a woman’s? Absolutely not. Men are also concerned about their hair and love trying out new styles, which makes it even worse when they suffer from hair loss. One form of hair loss is called alopecia, or spot baldness. This disease mostly appears in young men aged between 20 and 40. And hair loss is especially distressing when it happens at such a young age.
What is alopecia?
We still don’t really understand the exact cause of alopecia. Scientists think that it’s an autoimmune disease, where the immune system suddenly mistakes normal cells in the body as foreign invaders and attacks them, in this case the hair follicles, where hair growth begins. This means that the hair stops growing in these areas of the skin and the existing hair falls out. The special characteristic of this type of hair loss is that it only occurs in round or oval patches of the scalp, leaving the rest of the hair untouched. The result is totally smooth, hairless patches of baldness which can grow larger over time; more patches can also develop. The disease usually happens in phases; in rare cases the entire head can be affected.
What causes alopecia?
Where alopecia comes from and exactly what causes it is still not completely clear. However, scientists think that the disease may be connected to other autoimmune diseases like diabetes or thyroid disorders. The disease may also be associated with certain medication or pesticides. Another possible cause is severe emotional stress but this is not proven.
If your hair suddenly starts falling out in round patches, the first thing to do is go to a doctor to determine the best treatment. This might include special shampoos or lotions that can help combat hair loss by stimulating the scalp. If the hair loss coincides with an especially stressful time in your life, then it could help to explore methods of relaxation.
And now for the good news: in most cases, alopecia can be treated successfully; the hair will grow again in the affected patches, though the disease may recur during your lifetime. If the hair does regrow, its color and structure may differ at first from the rest of your hair but this should become more normal over time.