Coping with alopecia areata (hair loss)

Coping with alopecia areata (hair loss)

Coping with alopecia areata (hair loss)

Alopecia areata is not a contagious or life-threatening condition, and does not directly make a person feel ill. One is still able to function normally and live a full life. The effects of the disease are, for the most part, aesthetically distressing, which can lead to problems on the emotional front.

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).

What is the general outlook for a person with alopecia?

Alopecia areata is most often a temporary condition, but can result in permanent hair loss in rare cases. It does not tend to follow entirely predictable patterns and nor is it a condition that can be treated with any real certainty either. Unfortunately, there simply is no real way to predict an outcome as the condition varies from one person to the next.

As with most medical conditions, however, the earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment measures implemented, the more positive the outlook. It is best to always keep in mind that regrowth can be temporary, but if hair follicles are able to produce new hair, all is not entirely lost. Continuous treatment can help to stimulate growth and improve one’s overall appearance.

Those who may experience a poorer outcome in terms of treatment results include (5):

  • Individuals who have eczema, as well as alopecia areata
  • Individuals who begin experiencing hair loss from a young age (youth)
  • Individuals who experience hair loss over an extended period of time (long-term alopecia)
  • Individuals who experience widespread hair loss (alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis)

Reference:

5. Medline Plus. 24 October 2016. Alopecia areata: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001450.htm [Accessed 02.11.2017]

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