Alopecia Areata (AA) is a hair loss condition. It most commonly affects scalp and beard hair but can also affect other areas of hair on the body.
A large proportion of those suffering from AA have a family history of the condition. This is particularly true for those who are affected early on.
While the cause in not currently known, AA is generally believed to be an autoimmune disease. Many who suffer from it also suffer from other autoimmune diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
AA affects 0.1-0.2% of the population at any one time. It has a lifetime risk of 1.7%. 60% of patients experience their first episode under the age of 20. Patients often present with a sudden episode of hair loss, usually in round or oval patches. Sometimes the whole scalp or even the whole body hair may be lost.
Alopecia Areata – Treatment Options
There is currently no cure for AA. The disease may go into remission for a time, or may be permanent.
Many treatment options for AA have been developed. This can include a course of steroids, the use of topical Minoxidil or phototherapy. No one treatment is effective in all cases. Some individuals may show no response to any treatment.
Early treatment is advisable. Patients are advised to consult their GP as early as possible for referral to a clinical dermatologist or immunologist.
Hair Transplant Surgery as a treatment for AA
Hair transplant surgery has little, or no, role in the treatment of this condition. This is because the transplanted hairs are destroyed by the same process. Therefore, the results do not last.
If the process is no longer active, persisting areas of hair loss can be successfully treated with hair transplantation. It is difficult to confirm with any certainty when the process is no longer active. As a result, hair transplant surgery in these cases is rare.