The word alopecia simply means losing hair. There are a number of kinds of alopecia that are not cancer treatment related but are still referred to by the same name. Alopecia Totalis is one type.
What is Alopecia Totalis?
Alopecia Totalis is an auto-immune disorder. This condition results in a total loss of hair from the scalp only. There are two types of Alopecia Totalis, the first being a sudden, complete loss of all hair on the head and the second being slower, starting as Alopecia Areata (a patchy loss of hair) then advancing to total loss of scalp hair. AT can also affect the nails, yielding a brittle, pitted, or ridged look.
Who gets Alopecia Totalis?
The majority of sufferers of Alopecia Totalis includes children and young adults, under the age of 40, but it can occur at any age. This is a lifelong condition– once a person has been diagnosed, it can come and go with triggers. Stress, metabolic or endocrine disorders, and nutritional deficiencies have been linked to Alopecia as triggers. Alopecia Totalis is more common in those who have a family history of autoimmune conditions. It has been documented as occurring in people with chromosomal disorders, such as Down syndrome, and can also be drug-induced in patience on biologic medicines. It is not clear whether specific ethnic groups are more susceptible to Alopecia than others — it can occur in any and all populations of people.
Why do they get Alopecia Totalis?
The cause of Alopecia Totalis is speculative. Alopecia Totalis is the result of an auto-immune disorder that has caused the immune system to attack hair follicles on the head only. Research is still being conducted to determine why the immune system targets hair follicles. This condition is a genetic auto-immune malady with no known trigger. Sometimes the hair grows back but in most cases there is very little chance of hair regrowth.
What treatments have been used for Alopecia Totalis?
Genetic studies and research have produced promising results in finding a marker for Alopecia Areata as well as Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis. Current treatments include:
- glucocorticoid injections – also known as cotiocoseteroids, or steroids; they mimic the body’s natural cortisol; given by injection
- anthralin – a topical medication that works to slow down the growth of skin cells; it is used to treat psoriasis and Alopecia
- oral glucocorticoids – contains the same steroid as the injection, but is taken orally
Rogaine is not a recommended treatment as the follicles are the target of the auto-immune deficiency. In addition to steroids, some treatments for auto-immune diseases have been considered as possible ways to put Alopecia Totalis into remission, but have not been tested. The drug, ruxolitinib, has just begun to be tested in persons who suffer from Alopecia with excellent results. However, after treatment and regrowth of hair, it is still possible for hair loss to happen again throughout a person’s life.
Alopecia Totalis does not create the appearance of sickness, is not contagious, or painful, it can often be disheartening to live with hair loss. The malady does not change any aspect of a person’s health other than their hair. Hair loss is nothing to be ashamed of, but if having hair helps to increase confidence and put ease into day-to-day life, our salon offers many services, like consultations and custom styling, in addition to wigs for anyone dealing with Alopecia or other conditions resulting in a loss of hair. For more information about what Chrysalis Custom Hair has to offer, please contact us.