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Don't Let Hair Loss Tangle You Up: Dermatologists Can Identify Common Hair Disorders and Offer Solutions
Date:2/3/2008

er nutrition may be the source of this type of hair loss, which is why it is important to see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment."

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition in which the body makes antibodies to its own hair, causing patches of complete hair loss on the scalp or other parts of the body. Specifically, the white blood cells attack the hair follicles and put them in a sleeping state, causing the hair to fall out. While it cannot be predicted who will develop alopecia areata, the condition is thought to have some component that is a genetically inherited. Patients with another autoimmune disease or a family history of a known autoimmune disease seem to be prone to this form of hair loss.

Despite the lack of FDA-approved treatments for alopecia areata, Dr. McMichael said that dermatologists may use combination therapies off-label such as injectable steroids, topical steroids or minoxidil 5 percent to regrow hair in affected areas. In limited cases, potent oral corticosteroids can be used to slow hair loss and jumpstart hair regrowth.

In addition, dermatologists use two other forms of treatment to restore hair growth which involve the deliberate manipulation of the body's white blood cells. In irritant treatment, dermatologists trick the immune system into sending white blood cells to the scalp to get in the way of those white blood cells that are trying to cause hair loss. In contact sensitization, dermatologists apply irritants to the scalp to create a small allergic reaction. When this happens, white blood cells are again tricked into rising

to the surface of the scalp to fight this inflammation -- in essence diverting their attention away from the hair follicles.

Central Centrifugal Scarring Alopecia

A common form of hair loss that affects mostly African-American women is known as central centrifugal scarring alopecia. This type of hair loss is characterized by hair loss
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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