Alopecia is just one of the many medical terminologies you’ll encounter whenever the topic of baldness is brought up. It’s a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is essentially characterized by significant hair loss on the scalp or even other body parts.
While it can be distressing to experience alopecia-related hair loss, as it may significantly impact a person’s confidence and self-esteem, it is important to know that many options exist for managing and treating the condition. This blog post will explore alopecia's various aspects and characteristics and whether it can be truly “cured.”
What Even is Alopecia?
Alopecia is, in short, a medical condition that causes hair loss – or rather, a set of related conditions. That’s generally where things get a bit confusing. Several different types of alopecia exist, each with their respective causes and symptoms. The most common type you’ll hear about is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, which is hereditary and (as implied by the naming) affects both men and women.
Another type of common alopecia is alopecia areata, which causes patchy hair loss, and is believed – based on most modern findings – to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing them to stop producing hair.
Others include scarring alopecia, which results in permanent hair loss due to scalp scarring (attributed to infection, trauma, or autoimmune disorders), and alopecia caused by medical conditions such as thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, and chemotherapy treatment.
Additionally, there’s telogen effluvium, which is a temporary form of hair loss that occurs after a stressful event or illness and can become a serious chronic problem if the source of the issue is left untreated.
Can Alopecia be Cured?
Unfortunately, there is no true cure for alopecia. Not in the traditional sense, at least. However, there are many treatments available that can help manage the condition and promote recovery and future hair growth. The most common treatments for alopecia include medications, hair transplant surgery, and scalp micro-pigmentation – the latter of which is often referred to as a hair tattoo.
Medications such as minoxidil and finasteride can help promote hair growth and prevent further hair loss. These medications are often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as the aforementioned hair transplant surgery. Finasteride blocks DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), a hormone that, in unbalanced levels, can cause hair loss. Minoxidil, meanwhile, helps the body grow new hair thicker and faster than before.
Undergoing a Hair Transplant
Hair transplant surgery involves taking healthy hair follicles from one area of the scalp and transplanting them to the affected area. In addition, it is split into two types – FUE and FUT. The former involves the individual extraction of hair follicles one by one, while the latter entails the removal of a long strip of the scalp.
Each has its respective pros and cons we’ve covered before in our blogs, but they can both be highly effective treatments for androgenetic alopecia. Keep in mind, however, that they may not be suitable for the other types of alopecia.
Scalp micro-pigmentation, on the other hand, is a non-invasive treatment that involves tattooing tiny dots onto the scalp to create the illusion of hair. This can be a good option for people who are not suitable candidates for hair transplant surgery, but is far from a popular choice with women, unfortunately.
In addition to these treatments, many lifestyle changes can help manage alopecia. Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing stress as part of your day-to-day activities, and avoiding harsh hair treatments – be they chemical or otherwise – can all help promote healthy hair growth and prevent further hair loss.
Alopecia is a common condition that can be distressing to experience. While there is no cure for alopecia, there are many treatments available that can help manage the condition and promote healthy hair growth.
If you are experiencing hair loss, it is vital to speak to your doctor or a dermatologist to determine the cause of your alopecia and find the best treatment options for you. With the proper treatment and lifestyle changes, managing alopecia and living a happy, healthy life is definitely possible!
It is vital that you take care of yourself both physically and emotionally, and seek support from loved ones or a therapist if needed.