Monthly Archives: March 2011

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata (AA) is the name given to small circular patches of hair loss that occur on the scalp. Sometimes Alopecia Areata progresses to Alopecia Totalis, which is complete hair loss of the scalp or even Alopecia Universalis, which is complete hair loss of hair on the entire body (i.e. eye brows, eyelashes and body hair). The exact cause of AA is unknown but it is believed to be an autoimmune initiated disease. However not all scientists support this theory.

If we stick with the most widely accepted belief that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease then the question that now has to be asked is what triggers the onset?

Psychological long-term stress and extreme shock have been reported as triggers for AA. But then another question has to be asked, and that is, why doesn’t everyone who goes through stress and or extreme shock develop AA? The answer to this question may lie in the fact that some people have a genetic predisposition to alopecia areata. It is generally believed that susceptibility to develop alopecia areata is polygenic, i.e. there are a number of genes that if inherited, result in the individual more likely to develop the disease. These genes are not reported to be mutations or defective genes, but normal functioning genes, with some genes carrying more weight or importance in promoting the susceptibility. The more genes inherited the more extensive the hair loss and the more persistent the alopecia areata.

Physical trauma has also been linked with alopecia areata. Cells under physical stress can produce heat shock proteins (HSPs). These proteins have been implicated in the autoimmune diseases lupus, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Chemicals have also reported as a trigger of alopecia areata. Workers in a paper factory developed alopecia areata after long-term exposure to the chemical acrylamide. Isolated cases have also been reported between HIV drug Zidovudine and the anti-depressant drug Fluvoxamine.

The good and bad news is that Alopecia Areata can be treated but not cured (yet). There is currently no conclusive diagnostic test for alopecia areata. Typically, the initial alopecia areata lesions appear as a smooth bald patch sometimes appearing within 24 hours. Some people describe irritation, tenderness or paresthesia (burning, tingling, numbness) in the affected area or in an area preceding the development of a new patch. Also small broken off hairs called ‘Exclamation Mark Hairs’ can be seen circumscribing the patch.
Corticosteroids, 8-methoxypsoralen plus ultra violet A light (PUVA), immune cell distractors and minoxidil are some of the documented treatment options for alopecia areata.

Seek advice from a qualified TTS Trichologist for a consultation and treatment. Treatment should only be done by a qualified professional.

J Norris.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia was first recorded in 1907 in Greenland in woman and girls who styled their hair in tight pony tails.
the 21st century traction alopecia is commonly seen in Sikh men who grow their hair and beard very long and tightly wrap them up. It’s also seen in women who continuously wear weaves, hair extensions and those who tightly braid their hair.
This hair loss condition is caused by sustained tension of the scalp hair. Hair loss is usually symmetrical along the frontotemperal hairline and vellus hair (fine baby type hair) is usually seen in the affected area.
Hair loss can be permanent if traction persists over a long period of time resulting in atrophy (dying) of the hair follicles.

Do you have Traction Alopecia or could you be causing it?
In order to answer the above question you have to ask yourself the following questions:

A-Do you continuously put strain on your hair by tightly braiding your hair or by wearing long weaves/extensions without a least a months break?

B-When you have your hair braided or hair extensions applied, does your scalp ache for days after even weeks afterwards, and do you have to pat your head to try and relieve the ache?

C-Have you recently removed braids, a weave or hair extensions after a long period of time and noticed hair loss, especially along the hair line or temples?

If you answered yes to question A or B then you could be putting too much strain on your hair which could result in traction alopecia and then permanent hair loss.
If you answered yes to questions C then it would be advisable to stop wearing any hair extensions and to see a Trichologist. Myipaddress ask the eight ball A Fully qualified Trichologist (The Society of Trichologists) will be able to examine your scalp microscopically to determine if your hair follicles have been permanently damaged or not.
If the follicles are not permanently damaged then there are methods to stimulate hair growth.
If they are damaged then there are hair replacement systems that can be worn that will not apply any further strain on the hair or the hair can be styled naturally.

J.Norris-article property of Roots2Ends

Hair Loss after Childbirth

Some women may have noticed that during pregnancy they had thicker healthier looking hair, but then shortly (3-4 months) after pregnancy their hair started to shed more than normal.This type of hair loss is called Telogen Effluvium.
(The word Effluvium comes from the Latin effluere which means to flow out and the word Telogen is the word used to describe the stage in the hair growth cycle when hair is naturally shed).

So why does it happen?
During pregnancy the hormone Oestrogen increases in the body and this causes the majority of hair on your scalp to remain in the growing phase (anagen phase) for the whole of your pregnancy. This is why pregnant women appear to have thicker hair because more hair is in the growth phase than normal. After pregnancy the hormones begin to return to normal, and hair that should have been shed during pregnancy (hair that has grown beyond its normal growth span) then enters the telogen phase (sheding phase) and a few months later they are shed. If the mother is breast feeding then hair loss can be delayed because the hormone Prolactin (breasting-feeding hormone) can prolong the hairs in the anagen phase (growing phase) even longer.

The Good News
Hair shed after pregnancy will appear to be a lot but shedding will decrease over the subsequent months and hair growth will return to normal. It’s important to remember that after pregnancy Telogen Effluvium doesn’t decrease scalp hair numbers. As soon as telogen hair is lost it is replaced by anagen hair (growing hair).

If you’re worried and hair loss prolongs.
If hair loss is prolonged (longer than 6 months) blood tests such as a full blood count, thyroid and serum ferritin test can be advisable (contact your GP).

J.norris-Property of Roots2Ends.