Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. It is most often a temporary condition but can result in permanent hair loss in rare cases. It neither tends to follow predictable patterns nor it is a condition that can be treated with certainty as the outcome of the condition varies from person to person.
It is not a life-threatening condition and does not directly make a person feel ill. One is still able to function normally and live life to the fullest with Alopecia areata. The effects of the disease are, for the most part, aesthetically distressing, which can lead to problems on the emotional front.
As with most medical conditions, however, the earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment measures implemented, the more positive outlook. Continuous treatment helps in stimulating growth and improving one’s overall appearance.
Those who experience a poorer outcome in terms of treatment results include:
● Individuals who have eczema, as well as alopecia areata
● Individuals who begin experiencing hair loss from a young age
● Individuals who experience hair loss over an extended period (long-term alopecia)
● Individuals who experience widespread hair loss (Alopecia totalis or Alopecia universalis)
Medical treatment addresses hair loss (the physical aspect of the condition), but can also include coping mechanisms for the emotional symptoms which may arise. Counselling and support groups are common recommendations in helping a person to deal with the emotional aspect of hair loss, which can dramatically affect confidence, and lead to increased levels of anxiety (at worst, even depression).
To avoid such emotional problems and possible social isolation, it can help a great deal to confide in counsellors or others with the condition themselves (within a safe environment), who can all provide comfort, advice and even helpful suggestions to improve one’s appearance (such as safe to use hair-coloured powders and creams to mask bald patches or permanent make-up techniques to replace missing eye-brows).