Alopecia Totalis Patient
What is Alopecia Totalis ?

What is Alopecia Totalis ?

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What if you experienced complete hair loss in just one week? Alopecia totalis is a rare condition in which the sufferer experiences complete hair loss of the scalp. And it can happen quite rapidly. In some cases of alopecia totalis, even the eyelashes and eyebrows may be lost. It is one of three types of alopecia, among relatives alopecia areata—scalp hair loss in patches—and alopecia universalis—hair loss over the entire body.

Causes of Alopecia Totalis

Although the causes are undetermined, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the white blood cells attack the hair follicles. This means that the body reacts to the hair follicles as intruders, like a sickness, and must get rid of them. Stress, another autoimmune compromiser, may exacerbate hair loss for someone suffering with alopecia totalis.

Alopecia totalis can affect people at any age, but generally targets both men and women less than 40 years of age. Children and young adults are most often victims of this traumatic hair loss. Research has found that, in Western society, approximately one in 250,000 women and one in 125,000 men will suffer with alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.

For those with alopecia areata, hair loss may correct itself within about one year. However, those suffering complete hair loss from alopecia totalis may not be so fortunate. While there have been instances of total hair restoration, the chance of hair recovery is slight in the majority of alopecia totalis cases.

There is good news, yet. There are several hair loss treatment options for alopecia totalis, universalis, and especially areata. This includes:

1.     Topical steroids (creams, lotions, etc).

2.     Injectable steroids or intra-lesional steroid injections where the doctor injects low concentrations of steroids directly into the bald patches.

3.     Oral steroids. This is often used briefly in patients with hair loss from alopecia totalis or universalis.

4.     Contact allergy inducers or irritants: akin to inducing poison IVY in the hair loss areas, chemicals are applied to the area and the changes in immunity may resolve the condition.

The white cells that attack the native hair causing alopecia totalis would also attack grafted hair; hence hair transplantation is not advised as a treatment for this condition. The Hair Peace Foundation and other hair loss organizations can be a valuable resource for more information on alopecia totalis, alopecia areata, and alopecia universalis.

Woman With Alopecia Totalis
(image – Creative Commons) Alopecia Totalis results in complete hair loss
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