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Everything That You Need To Know About Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis

Dr. Aman Dua | October, 22 2014 | 0 Comments

For a layman, the term alopecia areata would not mean much, but to those who function in this domain, this broad term that means hair patchy. Within alopecia areata, there are several other types of losses, which are often determined based on the actual amount of hair loss. Broadly, there are three main categories of alopecia and these are Alopecia areata, Alopecia Totalisand Alopecia Universalis. This articles aims at looking more closely at both these categories, starting with alopecia Areata.

What is Alopecia Totalis?

alopecia totalisIn the simplest of terms, alopecia totalis is an autoimmune condition, which leads to total loss of hair. However, the complete hair loss is localised to the head, and person’s suffering from alopecia totalis will go completely bald, but not lose hair from any other part of the body. Many doctors consider this the middle level between alopecia areata and alopecia universalis. The manner in which alopecia totalis presents itself is in two forms – either it is sudden or happens over a period of time, with hair thinning out, leading to complete baldness. This condition is most often seen in children or adults who are below the age of 40. However, there is no hard and fast rule that only people in this demographic profile can be affected.

What Causes Alopecia Totalis?

Since it is an autoimmune condition, the immune system of the body, attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. In a majority of cases, there is little or no hope for hair regrowth or natural regeneration. Given that this condition is a genetic autoimmune, it is often considered that there is a trigger that starts the process. However, the ‘trigger’ is yet to be discovered and researches are ongoing in the field.

Treatments for Alopecia Totalis

Here is a look at some of the most popular treatments for alopecia totalis:

  • Therapies that are based on immunomodulation, and these include anthralin, glucocorticoid injections or the same taken in an oral form.
  • Medications such as Methotrexate and corticosteroids are often prescribed by doctors to treat the condition.
  • Deramethasene Pulse therapy is a good alternative.

Studies into the human leukocyte antigen has shown that DQ3 (DQB1*03) antigen has been found in almost 80% people suffering from alopecia areata. In addition, HLA DQ7 (DQB1*0301) as well as the leukocyte antigen DR4 (DRB1*0401) are found in people suffering from alopecia totalis. Treatment specifically for the same could prove beneficial, however, studies are still being conducted in the domain.

In patients with poor regrowth, scalp micropigmentation can help to Moving onto Alopecia Universalis:

What is Alopecia Universalis?

Alopecia UniversalisAlopecia universalis is perhaps the most acute version of alopecia areata and it leads to complete loss of hair, all over the body. People suffering from alopecia universalis will not have hair on part of their body, including their face, armpits and pubic area. As per the reports sent out by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, even nails can be affected, and one could diagnose them by observing the pinprick like indentations. The condition is normally lifelong, but in some cases, there has been complete hair regrowth.

What Causes Alopecia Universalis?

There are normally no other signs of illness in people suffering from alopecia universalis, but people who are suffering from thyroid or vitiligo are more prone to the same. The main cause for this condition has often been considered an autosomal recessive trait – the mutation of a particular gene, which has been labelled HR and can be found at location 8p12.2. Studies have also shown that people who suffer from this condition have what is popularly known as the hairless gene.

Since alopecia universalis presents itself with no hair on any part of the body, the body does become much more vulnerable. This is why people who are afflicted with this condition, need to take better care of themselves. While there are several companies which will promise creams and lotions, which will bring back total hair growth, this is nothing more than a myth.

The most prominent and trusted method of treating alopecia universalis is topical immunotherapy. The method works by creating an allergy on the skin, using certain irritants. The concept behind this method is that at times, by irritating the hair follicles, they might actually grow.

Chemicals like squaricacid dibutylester (SADBE) and diphencyprone(DPCP) can be applied to the scalp to gain some positive results. In order to see true results, the treatments have to be continued over the long period of time. However, none of these treatments are completely verified and tests are still being conducted in the field.

Dr. Aman Dua

Dr. Aman Dua

Dr. Aman Dua, Co-Founder & Managing Director at AK Clinics has over 14 years of clinical and teaching experience in the fields of Dermatology and Hair Transplant. Clinically, she has practiced aesthetic dermatology as a Consultant at Dayanand Medical Hospital, Ludhiana where she also served as the Assistant Professor & Skin Specialist for a number of years.

Over the course of her career, she has garnered acclaim as a facial aesthetics expert, with special interest in non-surgical acne scar removal. She practices as a Chief Dermatologist at Ludhiana Clinics.

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