Alopecia, causes, symptoms and treatment

There is a cycle for hair growth. The first stage in this cycle of hair growth is called anagen. Second stage in which hair growth stops is called telogen. In the third stage of this cycle hair fall starts, it is called catagen. After hair fall in the catagen stage, the cycle starts again from the anagen stage and hair growth starts again. Hence, the cycle continues.

Types of Alopecia

Alopecia Areata

Temporary patchy hair loss due to stress or depression. Hair follicles stop their normal function in certain areas which results in hair loss from these parts. After sometime when stress subsides hair follicles start their normal function and hair growth starts there.

Androgenic alopecia

Hair loss from front of the head, top of head or from sides of the head is called male pattern baldness. This is a hormonal problem. Testosterone or androgen hormone is responsible for hair growth on the body but hair falls from the head. Hair fall depends upon the sensitivity of the scalp to testosterone. More the receptors are sensitive to testosterone, the more hair fall occurs and vice versa. It is called androgenic alopecia. Alopecia is more common in males.

Treatment of alopecia

Alopecia caused by stress subsides itself but here are some remedies to overcome hormonal alopecia which are discussed below:

Anti Testosterone medications:

Anti Testosterone medications are used, these medications suppress the effect of testosterone. But long term use can also suppress the male features by blocking testosterone function on different body parts.

Hair Transplant:

Hair grafting procedures.

Mycosis fungoides

Skin cancer is known as mycosis fungoides. A patch (on the surface of skin, difficult to diagnose) followed by plaque formation (elevated from the surface of skin) which leads to nodule formation. Skin biopsy and histopathology is done for diagnosis. Early symptoms of Mycosis fungoides are similar to psoriasis and eczema. It is not localized might spread to the rest of body parts.

Treatment of Mycosis fungoides
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Ultraviolet rays
  • Laser therapy

Polymorphic light eruption

This is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Immune system takes sunlight as an antigen and react against it. Sunlight is the triggering factor. In sunlight our skin is exposed to toxic radiations like gamma rays, ultraviolet rays and light spectrums. Longterm excessive exposure to sunlight (labours, workers) might cause skin cancer. Some people are more sensitive to sunlight, and exposure to sunlight will cause itching, redness, patch formation, plaque and nodule formation but the symptoms persist till the skin is exposed to sunlight and subsides later. In polymorphic light eruption, lesion is limited to the sun exposed area.

Diagnosis for polymorphic light eruption

Biopsy is done and skin sample is sent to laboratory for further investigation to make diagnosis.

Treatment for polymorphic light eruption
  • Ask patient to avoid sun exposure
  • Corticosteroid creams
  • Use sun blocks
  • Gradual desensitization

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