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  5. Alopecia Totalis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & Risk Factors

Are you losing hair on your scalp at a rapid speed? Sudden baldness could be caused by a lot of things. Among the many reasons, one is a rare autoimmune disease called alopecia totalis. It causes complete loss of hair on your scalp.

Alopecia totalis happens when your immune system starts destroying your hair follicles. While experts are unsure of the cause behind this condition, certain situations may trigger it. Controlling alopecia totalis could be difficult without detailed knowledge about it.

In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of alopecia totalis, the risk factors and the treatments available in the market. Scroll down to know more!

What Is Alopecia Totalis?

Alopecia totalis is a rare autoimmune skin condition that leads to excessive hair loss. Many people confuse this condition with localized alopecia areata, where you may lose hair in some areas of your scalp. But alopecia totalis is an advanced stage of alopecia areata, and will leave you bald completely. [1]

What Are The Symptoms Of Alopecia Totalis?

1. The scalp starts to itch. You may experience soreness.

2. Hair loss is also one of the first symptoms. You may experience an extreme level of hair loss suddenly.

3. The condition starts with some bald patches on your scalp.

4. The bald patches start growing till one becomes completely bald.

5. You may also notice brittle nails on both hands and legs.

What Are The Causes Of Alopecia Totalis?

Alopecia totalis does not have any concrete reason behind it. It is still unclear why some people develop this skin condition. However, years of studies have shown that some people have a higher chance of getting alopecia totalis compared to others.

1. Genetics plays a role in this condition. 20% of the people with this disease have a family history of the same.

2. Besides this, few people with certain specific genes are more likely to get alopecia totalis if they come in contact with pathogens, viruses, allergies etc.

3. Alopecia totalis has also often been linked to stress. People who have alopecia totalis also suffer from stress.

4. Any person suffering from any type of autoimmune disorder, is more likely to develop alopecia totalis as compared to others.

What Are The Available Treatments For Alopecia Totalis?

1. Topical Immunotherapy

Topical immunotherapy is a therapy that is programmed to boost the immune system to fight the condition. If your body responds to the therapy, hair follicles may start to regrow and stimulate new hair generation. [2]

2. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are often suggested by doctors as a treatment for alopecia totalis. Corticosteroid suppresses the immune system in order to stop it from destroying healthy body cells. After the medication starts showing results, hair follicles start to regenerate.

3. Diphencyprone

When the scalp starts showing signs of allergic reaction like itching, soreness and scaly patches, doctors may suggest Diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP). It is a topical treatment that helps to influence the growth of hair follicles by increasing the count of white blood cells in your body. [3]

4. Minoxidil

Minoxidil works by inducing hair regrowth. It is not a complicated treatment. It can be taken with other therapies for new hair growth. Doctors recommend this for both adults and children.

5. UV Light Therapy

Another treatment to regrow hair is ultraviolet light therapy. The treatment helps regulate the blood circulation to hair follicles. In this manner, it helps to regenerate new hair on your slap. This therapy does not guarantee that your hair will not fall anymore. But once the treatment ends, hair loss can be controlled. [4]

6. Biologics

Biologics are a kind of drug currently under observation for alopecia totalis. It has proteins and other ingredients that can deal with the overactive immune system.

Alopecia Totalis Vs Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Totalis

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia totalis starts with alopecia areata.

Not all alopecia areata cases turn into alopecia totalis.

Alopecia totalis only affects the scalp and leads to baldness.

Alopecia areata[5] can happen all over the body. It can make the body go hairless.

Its cause is still unclear to the experts. But conditions like stress, heredity, and other autoimmune disorders are linked to this disease.

Similarly, alopecia areata also does not have any specific reasons. It happens when your immune system starts attacking the healthy hair follicles of your body.

What Are The Risk Factors For Alopecia Totalis?

The risk factor is the unpredictability of the disease. No one can tell if the treatment is going to work for sure. Some people respond to the treatment and heal fast. But few may get disappointed with the result. In fact, the treatment has a risk of increasing complications. Few cases have resulted in more hair loss. Usually, the hair loss sticks to the scalp but when the treatment worsens the situation, you may lose hair from other parts of the body too.

Does Hair Grow Back After Alopecia Totalis?

There are chances of hair regrowth after alopecia totalis. The treatments mentioned will stimulate new hair generation and promote hair growth. But there are few circumstances where the chances of hair regrowth are extremely low. This includes cases such as those of people suffering from alopecia totalis for more than two years. They may not get hair regrowth.

Also, if your baldness started with alopecia areata and turned into alopecia totalis, then hair generation is highly doubtful.

Is Alopecia Totalis Hereditary?

Alopecia is an autoimmune skin disorder. Studies suggest that a lot of patients with alopecia have some other autoimmune disease or disorder. But it is not necessary that if anyone had the disease in your family, you would also have it.

When To Consult A Doctor About Alopecia Totalis?

If your scalp is acting unusual and showing signs of soreness, itchiness and dry patches, with excessive hair fall, then contact your doctor. Typically, the heavy hair fall on your pillow when you wake up is a huge indication that you are losing your hair at a fast rate.

Wrapping Up

Alopecia totalis is an unpredictable disorder. Sometimes the doctors also fail to confirm the outcome of your treatment. Hence, the chances of complete recovery remain low. But the condition can be controlled if it is diagnosed at an early stage. The treatment altogether is a long and hectic journey, so keep yourself motivated. The more you stay positive about the situation, the easier it will be to handle it.

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