ALOPECIA AREATA (AA)
By Dr. Nektarios Logaras – Dermatologist/Venereologist
What is Alopecia Areata (AA)?
The word Alopecia is borrowed from the Ancient Greek ἀλωπεκία (alōpekía, “fox-mange”), from ἀλώπηξ (alṓpēx, “fox”) + -ia, (a formative ending used in Ancient Greek, especially used in naming diseases) and the word ‘Areata’ that means ‘patches’. Alopecia Areata (AA) is a common, pathological, non-contagious autoimmune disease that is characterized by partial or complete hair loss. AA can affect any hairy area, such as the scalp, beards, eyelashes, eyebrows, or anywhere else on the body where hairs grow. Alopecia Areata (AA) affects approximately 1%-2% of the general population. Children and adolescents are most often affected and it is equally common in both sexes. The intensity of hair loss varies. It can start slowly or expand rapidly, just like the size of the affected area that can start as a small coin and extend with slow or fast rates.
What are the main causes of Alopecia Areata?
A combination of genes predisposes to Alopecia. The white blood cells that protect our body from bacteria and viruses attack the hair follicles resulting in hair loss. A child can inherit all the genes that predispose to Alopecia Areata (AA).
Some other environmental factors are the following:
-Viral, Fungal infections
Also, another aggravating factor is when there is a family member with other autoimmune diseases such as:
-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
-Type I Diabetes,
-Thyroid diseases have an increased risk of developing Alopecia Areata (AA).
Symptoms / Types of Alopecia Areata (AA):
The types are:
-The lesions that may cause pitting to the nails.
People with Alopecia Totalis lose all of the hair from their scalp. People with Alopecia Universalis lose all of the hair from their scalp and body. The changes in the nails may include splitting of the nails, roughness but also lines from the base to the tip of the nails. Usually the areas where the hairs are lost (plaques) are asymptomatic or show a slight itching or pain. These can be found in areas of hair loss and are short broken off hairs that are narrower closer to the scalp and therefore mimic an exclamation point. With the hair pull test, the hairs are easily detached and on their re-emergence some of them may be white.
Treatment of Alopecia Areata
There’s no known cure for alopecia areata, but there are treatments that you can try that might be able to slow down future hair loss or help hair grow back more quickly. For many people, hair is an important part of their appearance and self-image, and any type of hair loss can lower self-esteem and confidence. In alopecia areata, the unpredictable cycle of hair loss and regrowth can make the symptoms even more difficult to cope with. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease since the immune system mistakenly recognizes the hair follicle cells as hostile and therefore attacks them resulting in hair loss.
Treatment of underlying diseases:
Before any treatment for AA, it is very important to treat diseases that may coexist such as: Fungal infections, Thyroid diseases, etc. which without treatment adversely affect Alopecia Areata (AA).
In adult patients, we inject locally into the lesion when we have extensive damage to the scalp or face with satisfactory results. Topical corticosteroids in creamy form are widely used, especially in children and adults. We avoid oral corticosteroids due to side effects, limited effectiveness, but also relapse when we stop their use.
Anthralin is a form of topical immunomodulatory therapy that alters the skin’s immune function. Apply a thin layer of anthralin to only the affected area of the skin or scalp and rub in gently. Leave it on for 20-60 minutes and then rinse it well.
Minoxidil is used for hair loss in adults and children, with very good results for over 20 years. We usually use it together with topical corticosteroids or anthralin.
Topical Immunotherapy in the treatment of Alopecia Areata:
As Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease, it is recommended a topical immunotherapy with the contact allergens, Diphencyprone (DPCP)and Squaric Acid Dibutylester (SADBE)with proven efficacy. The most effective form of immunotherapy is topical sensitization with the contact allergens DPCP or SADBE. The method is safe and effective and it is used for over 30 years.
The Treatment of Alopecia Areata (Hair Loss) with Growth Factors is done in combination with other treatments to quickly maintain and strengthen the hair follicles, with very good results.
The Doctor’s experience
Dr. N. Logaras MD
Laser Dermatologic Surgeon
Graduate of Nottingham and Birmingham Universities of England.
-Specialization in Dermatologic Surgery, Department of Plastic Surgery, Hospital of Dermatology & Venereal Diseases “Andreas Syggros”
-Specialization in Digital Dermoscopy – Mole Mapping, at the Department of Dermoscopy and Melanoma, Hospital of Dermatology & Venereal Diseases “Andreas Syggros”
-Degree in Medicine, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, The University of Nottingham, UK.
CAREER AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE/strong>
-Dermatologist – Venereologist, Private Clinic – Athens South Dermatology & Laser Center, Alimos
-Dermatology – Venereology Specialty, Hospital of Dermatologic & Venereal Diseases “Andreas Syggros”
-Former Doctor, Royal Derby | Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, England
-Former Doctor, Taunton and Somerset Hospital NHS Trust-Musgrove Park, England
-Former Doctor, Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust, England
-Former Doctor, Queen Alexandra Hospital, England
-Former Doctor, Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust, England
-Former Doctor, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, England
20 years of medical experience.
Phone No. for Appointment: +302109821431