Did you know that people shed between 50 and 100 hairs every day? Most of the time, new hairs replace the ones we lose, but that isn't always the case. Many Canadian men suffer from hair loss.
Hair loss can be a frustrating and challenging experience for many men. It impacts your confidence, social life, and even your love life. One cause of hair loss is alopecia areata.
This condition can be confusing and overwhelming. But understanding its types, symptoms, causes, and treatments is critical to dealing with it effectively.
In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about alopecia areata in men, including identifying it, the different types of alopecia areata, and who is at risk. We'll also explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for this condition and practical daily tips for dealing with it. Let's dive in.
A good alopecia areata definition is "hair loss that occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing them to fall out." It can affect people of all ages and genders and appear on any part of the body where hair grows.
However, alopecia areata most commonly occurs on the scalp. There are several variations of alopecia areata, each with its characteristics and hair loss patterns. The most common kinds include:
Characteristics of patchy alopecia areata are small, round patches of hair loss on the scalp or other body areas. These areas of patchy hair loss can be itchy or painful and appear suddenly or gradually over time.
This type of alopecia areata is characterized by hair loss in a band-like pattern around the sides and lower back of the scalp. It can be challenging to treat and often results in permanent hair loss.
This type of alopecia areata results in one completely losing hair on their scalp. It can be particularly distressing, and many people who suffer from it wear wigs or other head coverings.
Universalis alopecia areata is the most severe form of alopecia areata, resulting in complete hair loss on the scalp and body. It is a rare condition and can be particularly challenging to treat.
Diffuse alopecia areata results in a more widespread hair thinning rather than a random bald spot on the head or patches of hair loss. One defining factor of diffuse alopecia areata is its difficulty in diagnosing. This type of alopecia areata is often mistaken for other types of hair loss.
Understanding the variations of alopecia areata is vital for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Each type presents with other symptoms and hair loss patterns, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you are experiencing alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a condition that can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. However, research suggests that it most often affects individuals with a family history of the condition. It puts those with other autoimmune disorders at risk, such as:
Age may also be a factor. Since genetics plays a role in the condition, it can appear as early as childhood. However, sometimes hair loss begins in early adulthood.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor nutrition may also increase the risk of developing alopecia areata. Getting too little sleep may also exacerbate the symptoms of alopecia areata.
Regarding gender, studies show that men are more likely than women to develop the condition. Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) is a different condition that can coexist with alopecia areata, exacerbating hair loss.
In some cases, men may also develop alopecia areata due to physical or emotional stress. Since stress can trigger autoimmune dysfunction, it can also play a role in triggering alopecia areata.
The impact of alopecia areata on men can be significant, as hair loss can affect self-esteem and confidence. Men should be aware of potential risk factors for alopecia areata and seek treatment if they notice any signs of the condition.
Symptoms of alopecia areata can range from mild to severe. Alopecia areata causes the following:
Unless another condition causes alopecia areata, people with it are often otherwise healthy.
As the hair follicle becomes damaged from alopecia areata, it produces abnormal hairs. These hairs, called exclamation mark hairs, are a characteristic sign of the condition.
Exclamation mark hairs are shorter and more fragile than normal hairs. They have an "exclamation mark" appearance, with a thicker base that thins towards the tip.
Exclamation mark hairs are usually found in the margins of a bald patch or the surrounding areas. If you notice exclamation mark hairs, contact your doctor for further examination.
There are several causes of alopecia areata, including genetics and autoimmune disorders. Research suggests that those with a family history of the condition are more likely to develop it themselves.
Additionally, some autoimmune disorders are alopecia areata triggers. That's why those who have autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop the condition.
If you are experiencing hair loss or other symptoms, seeing a doctor for diagnosis and treatment is essential. The types of doctors that often treat alopecia areata are:
The most recent development in alopecia areata treatment is Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors. However, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and over-the-counter topical solutions are also effective alopecia areata treatment options.
JAK inhibitors are oral medications that block the Janus kinase enzymes involved in hair loss. These medications are relatively new but have shown promising results in clinical trials.
While JAK inhibitors can help regrow hair in many patients, they may have some side effects, including:
Currently, no JAK inhibitors are approved to treat alopecia areata in Canada. RINVOQ got approval to treat atopic dermatitis in 2021, and there are hopes that its merit will soon lead to support for treating alopecia areata.
Read more: 5 Precautions When You Have Alopecia Areata
Corticosteroids are medications that with multiple applications. First, they can be topical. So, you would apply a cream steroid to your scalp.
Otherwise, corticosteroids can be injections. During this type of treatment, a medical professional injects them into the affected areas of your scalp.
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the hair follicles and suppress the immune system. Thus, addressing the root cause of alopecia areata.
A dermatologist usually administers injected corticosteroids. In general, the injections are more effective for extensive hair loss. However, they are more expensive and less convenient.
Some topical over-the-counter treatments derive their active ingredients from steroids. One of the most popular ones is finasteride.
Despite being able to buy these products over the counter, remember to get medical approval before using them. The potential side effects could harm you, and you should be aware before proceeding. Such side effects include skin thinning and the risk of developing infections.
Immunosuppressants are oral medications that work by suppressing the immune system. They generally treat severe alopecia areata that does not respond to other treatments. Some common immunosuppressants used to treat alopecia areata in Canada are:
Immunosuppressants can have serious side effects. Some side effects include an increased risk of infections, liver and kidney problems, and cancer risk. So it would be best if you took them under close supervision from your physician.
Read more: What You Need to Know: Thick vs Thin Hair
Several over-the-counter topical solutions, such as anthralin, treat hair regrowth. Anthralin is a medication that works by reducing inflammation in the hair follicles.
While OTC medications can be effective for some people, they may not work for everyone. They may also have uncomfortable side effects, such as scalp irritation and itching.
No specific lifestyle change can cure alopecia areata. But changing your daily routine may help manage the condition.
For example, you could try reducing your stress levels. Some people find meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to release their pent-up stress. Since stress can be an alopecia areata trigger, these techniques could help soothe your symptoms.
Moreover, regular exercise can help improve health and well-being, which can, in turn, reduce stress and slow hair loss. A healthy diet goes hand-in-hand with regular exercise.
Incorporating nutrient-rich foods can also support healthy hair growth. Try filling your plate with foods like:
Finally, stopping smoking and drinking alcohol can help reduce inflammation that causes hair loss. Adopting these healthy habits can reduce your alopecia areata symptoms.
It's important to note that not all treatments work for everyone. And treatment outcomes vary per person. The best way to tailor treatment to yourself is by working with a medical professional.
Dealing with alopecia areata goes beyond seeking treatment and lifestyle changes. While regrowing your hair may be a priority, living with the condition means caring for yourself and your confidence.
Many men and women with alopecia areata report that wearing a hat or wig helps them feel good about their appearance. But these are also excellent tools to help protect your scalp from further damage. For example, they keep your head out of the sun and cold weather, two factors that can exacerbate hair loss.
Some people find that scalp massages with pumpkin seed oil, rice water, and other natural remedies promote hair growth while reducing stress. Additionally, try avoiding harsh hair treatments. Don't use chemical straighteners or dyes, which cause further hair damage.
Finally, try seeking emotional support. You don't have to deal with alopecia areata alone. Therapy or support groups can help individuals cope with the emotional impact of hair loss.
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way to stop alopecia areata from spreading. However, some treatments and lifestyle changes may help slow down the progression of the condition.
It is essential to seek medical advice and work with a healthcare professional to find the best treatment plan. Remember that stress reduction, a healthy diet, and avoiding harsh hair products and styles can reduce inflammation and hair loss. Additionally, trying at-home remedies may aid in your treatment plan.
There are some things that people with alopecia areata should avoid to manage the condition and prevent it from worsening. If you have alopecia areata, you should avoid the following:
All these factors have an impact on inflammation. Avoiding these environmental elements can reduce the inflammation that worsens alopecia areata.
Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent alopecia areata. However, there are specific steps you can take to maintain your overall health and well-being, which may help to reduce your risk of developing the condition.
This includes adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting enough sleep. Additionally, practice self-care and stress management. If you have a family history of the condition, it may be worth consulting your doctor to see if you can take additional precautions.
Alopecia areata is a complex condition that affects men of all ages and backgrounds. Understanding the types of alopecia areata, its causes and symptoms, and treatments can help you manage the condition. Self-care, lifestyle changes, and medical treatments can help reduce the impact of alopecia areata on your life.
Hair loss is easier to stop than it is to reverse. If you see signs of hair loss, it's time to take action. Read our other blog posts to learn more about reclaiming your hair and your confidence.
The ICD-10 code for hair loss is L65, a medical classification listed by WHO.
Baricitinib does not cure alopecia areata but has shown promise in promoting hair regrowth.
The duration of an episode of alopecia areata can vary widely, but it usually lasts between six and twelve months.
Minoxidil helps promote hair regrowth in some cases of alopecia areata, but it is not a cure.
Alopecia areata can begin at any age but most commonly appears during childhood or early adulthood.
Alopecia areata appears to have a genetic component. Still, it is not inherited in a simple pattern like some other conditions.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles.
Alopecia areata is not life-threatening. But it can impact your quality of life, mainly when it affects the scalp or other visible areas.
Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment options.