Bald Spots and Thinning Hair - Temporary or Permanent?

Bald spots on head and thinning hair have become a huge problem in today’s society. Stress can cause the condition or it can have genetic origins. However, sometimes there are other explanations. The sudden loss of hair for example, in specific areas on the scalp can be caused by a medical condition. There are just so many variables!

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Bald Spots on Head, Thinning Hair, and Alopecia

In alopecia areata, hair loss can affect the scalp and sometimes other areas of the body too. If it only affects the scalp, hair loss tends to have a sudden onset and is often seen on one side of the scalp more than the other. Bald spots affect both men and women alike, and usually there is a medical reason.

Autoimmune disorders such as allergies, thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, crohns, and even fibromyalgia can cause bald spots to occur. In cases of alopecia, evidence suggests a disruption or abnormality in the immune system, which can lead to autoimmunity; where the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles and disrupts normal hair function. Biopsies performed on affected areas show immune cells inside of the hair follicles where they are not normally present. Sometimes too, alopecia areata can be linked to family traits.

  • Alopecia Areata is seen as one or more bald spots on the scalp. Bald areas appear to be small, soft, round patches.

  • Another form of more generalized thinning of scalp hair, is referred to as diffuse alopecia areata.

  • Sometimes, all of the hair on the scalp is lost, referred to as alopecia totalis.

  • Less often, there is loss of all of the hairs on the entire body, including pubic hair, called alopecia universalis.

  • Hair loss can also only involve the male beard, a condition known as alopecia areata barbe.

    Alopecia areata occurs most often in children, teens, and young adults, but is also seen in the elderly. Alopecia is not contagious, and it shouldn’t be confused with; 1) the normal shedding of hair, 2) hair shedding that may occur following a discontinuation of hormonal therapies like birth control, nor 3) the hair shedding associated with post pregnancy.

    If you can’t tell if you have alopecia areata, you may need to see a dermatologist, who may want to perform a biopsy of the affected area. The main characteristics of alopecia areata are found in ‘exclamation point hairs’. These are short, broken off hairs that are narrower closer to the scalp. (Hence, they take the form of an upside down an exclamation point!)

    There are three stages of alopecia areata.

  • Initial sudden hair loss.
  • Bald patches of hair loss grow larger.
  • Hair begins to grow back.

    These three stages can take months or even years to complete.

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    Treatment of Bald Spots

    In nearly fifty percent of patients, hair will grow back within a year without any treatment. However, the longer the period of time of hair loss, the more likely that the condition will be permanent. A variety of treatments can be tried, if you find that your hair isn’t growing back on its own.

    Steroid (cortisone) injections and scalp treatments, which include specific creams, and shampoos (such as clobetasol or fluocinonide) are sometimes effective. Other medications include minoxidil, anthralin or topical coal tar, and topical immunotherapy (cyclosporine), are sometimes used in various combinations. A newer treatment is Provillus, which is a two part solution. The first solution is minoxidil but the second solution is an all natural herbal solution. The treatment seems to work well for both men and women.

    One study reported in the journal Archives of Dermatology (vol. 134, 1998;1349-52) showed aromatherapy essential oils (cedarwood, lavender, thyme, and rosemary oils) to be effective for some people. As with other chronic disorders for which there is no single treatment, a variety of remedies are promoted which unfortunately, have no real benefit.

    There is no known way to prevent bald spots, although eliminating high emotional stress can be helpful. At this time, no drugs or hair care products have been associated with the onset of alopecia areata. Much research remains to be done to fully understand this complex condition.

    Alopecia Areata Facts

  • Alopecia areata is a condition of hair loss which usually affects the scalp.

  • Alopecia areata causes one or more patches of hair loss.

  • High stress can cause bald spots in some people.

  • Alopecia areata tends to affect younger individuals, both male and female, but can affect anyone at anytime.

  • An autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, is believed to cause alopecia areata.

  • For most people, the condition resolves without treatment within a year, but hair loss is sometimes permanent.

  • There are a number of treatments known to aid in hair growth. Multiple treatments may be necessary, but none of them consistently work for everyone.

  • Many treatments are promoted which have no proven benefit.

  • Bald spots and general hair loss over the entire scalp can also be caused by a yeast infection on the scalp. Most of the time, the culprit is seborrheic dermatitis, also called Cradle Cap. In seborrhea, greasy scales on the scalp are usually visible. When you remove the thick scales, hair will come off with the scales. The yeast infection can be resolved quickly and easily using Nizoral shampoo.

  • To help regrow hair, try taking biotin which is associated with the growth of hair. Its inexpensive to buy so it certainly can’t hurt to try it. Super Biotin (5000 mcg.) is one of the best ways to reverse hair loss in many people.

  • Studies have shown that women in their 50's are likely to have alopecia, due to factors such as aging or a genetic or a hormonal change.

  • Bald spots can also be attributed to excessive heat, excessive strong chemicals, like bleach or relaxers, tight braiding, or hair weaves.

    Finding bald spots on your scalp can be a scary and confusing time for anyone. One minute you have hair and the next minute its falling out. The one thing to keep in mind is that the condition is usually temporary. Your hair should grow back so just give it some time. While you're waiting, be especially mindful and gentle with your hair. Use soft bristled hair brushes and don't tug or pull on your hair. Try not to shampoo too often and most of all, be patient.

    Related Pages on This Site

    Hair Texture - The Skinny on the Fat

    Hair Growth – How Fast Does Hair Grow?

    Hair Facts and Fiction – Separating Truth from Myth

    Hair Porosity – Why It's is Such a Big Deal!

    Healthy Hair - No Magician Required!

    Protein Treatment for Hair Damage


    Facts About Alopecia Areata

    Balding Spots - An Embarrassing Problem

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