Alopecia areata is
identified as a certain type of disease known as autoimmune. An auto
immune disease is caused by the attack of the bodys immune system
on a part of the body that it treats as foreign tissue, which in this
case are the hair follicles.
Cytokines, a chemical known to be a part of the bodys immune system,
may contribute to the development of alopecia areata by hampering
the growth of hair follicles. This then subsequently leads to the
suppression of or the interruption of the hair
As with other autoimmune diseases, alopecia areata is linked to an increased risk of acquiring other autoimmune diseases as well, specifically systemic lupus erythematosus.
There are several ideas as to what exactly causes
alopecia areata. The factor involving an individuals genetic
makeup seems to be an important consideration since those who are
affected by alopecia areata tend to have other family members who
have been afflicted also.
Research suggests that a combination of certain genes make some people more prone to develop alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata, a common hair
loss disease, is neither painful nor contagious. Although there
is no specific reason for the onset and development of alopecia
areata, there are factors in ones environment that may trigger the
start of the disease. These factors may be biological or emotional.
Some common causes and risk factors of alopecia areata are emotional
stress, a family history and genetic predisposition to acquiring
alopecia areata, chemicals and chromosomal disorders such as Down
People who have thyroid diseases,
asthma, allergic conditions, and other autoimmune diseases such
as diabetes, vitiligo, and rheumatoid arthritis are also at risk
to develop alopecia areata.
Some other causes for the development of alopecia include
child birth may cause excessive hair loss. During pregnancy, a womans
hormone levels cause the hair to grow at a very high rate; however,
upon giving birth, the hormone levels go back to normal and the
hair goes into the resting phase of the hair
growth cycle, causing excessive hair loss. This hair loss is
natural and can be corrected in due time.
- Diseases of the thyroid glands
Thyroid diseases caused by either
an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can also contribute to
hair loss. A proper course of treatment may be undertaken to reverse
this type of hair loss.
Medical treatments cause side effects including hair loss. Drugs that are used to treat diseases such as arthritis, depression, gout, high blood pressure, and heart problems have been known to cause hair loss in some patients.
The use of birth control pills can sometimes cause women to lose hair, specifically those women who have are more prone to hair loss (androgenic alopecia). If, upon taking birth control pills, hair thinning occurs, a woman can switch to another type of birth control pill.
Certain scalp infections like ringworm can lead to hair loss. Once these infections are treated, the hair normally grows back.
Stress can trigger alopecia areata. Stressful events such as major surgery or high fevers can trigger the start of genetic hair loss; and for individuals who have already started to lose hair, any stressful event can cause the hair loss to increase.
Low protein can cause the body to shift the hair from the growth phase into the resting phase. If this happens due to low protein in the body, it is expected that hair shedding will occur after a period of two to three months. Hair loss brought about by inadequate protein may be reversed through proper diet and the intake of the prescribed amount of protein.
A deficiency in iron can produce hair loss, and is common in women during pregnancy and menstruation.