• Hair Loss: What You Need to Know about Alopecia Areata

    It affects children and can develop in utero
  • child hair loss

    People normally associate hair thinning with age, and is usually considered more common in men. But did you know that even your child can suffer from hair loss? Read on and learn about the condition called alopecia.

    Related story: The Real Deal on Postpartum Hair Loss 

     

    What is alopecia?

     Alopecia, a condition which can cause patches of baldness, can affect both men and women at any age. Its onset cannot be prevented and there are no studies to prove that a healthy lifestyle can help cure the disease.

    How does one get alopecia?

     “The disease has a genetic predilection, meaning there are more chances of getting it if there is a family member affected. It is, however, not infectious as no organisms are involved. Though inconclusive, extreme stress is said to trigger the condition in genetically susceptible individuals,” says Dr, Rica Mallari of the Philippine Dermatological Society. “Stress is a major factor. If there’s severe stress that occurred, usually that’s when one gets a bald patch or severe shedding.”
     

    Can children get alopecia too? 

    Yes. 

    Dr. Mallari says that alopecia which begins at childhood is usually more difficult to treat than that which manifests later in life. Kids who suffer from this are common targets for bullying, she says, so they discuss with the parents of these children ways to avoid such scenarios and help the child come to terms with her condition (e.g., having the child wear a wig, etc). Says Dr. Mallari. “It’s so difficult to treat. It might not grow back anymore.

    What are the different kinds of alopecia?

    Alopecia has many types, among them are:

    1) pattern hair loss or common baldness; 

    2) telogen effluvium or temporary hair shedding; and 

    3) alopecia areata, which is considered the hardest to treat

    Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder where the immune cells of the body go against the hair follicles, making the hair strands weak at the base and easy to pluck. It is characterized by bald patches on the scalp that may join together and eventually render an individual hairless. “The follicles get destroyed, so you cannot grow your hair,” explains Dr. Mallari. Alopecia areata may also attack other hairy parts of the body such as the eyebrows and pubic area. 

    In the U.S., alopecia occurs in one in every 200,000 in the U.S., but it’s a different story in the Philippines, says Dr. Mallari. “In the clinics, [alopecia areata] is one of the top three [conditions that patients go to us for]. And for those who have it, usually one in five has a family member [who is also] affected.”

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