I first encountered Alopecia Areata nearly six years ago. Brushing my hair one morning, a significant chunk fell out onto the counter and I panicked. My fear was quickly followed by frantic hours spent looking in the mirror and covering my thinning patches.
This patterned continued over the next few weeks, until more than 50% of my hair was missing! Frustrated and confused, I finally made an appointment with my dermatologist to find out what was going on. A consultation with the physician revealed that I had Alopecia Areata.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, there are approximately 6.8 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, and more than 140 million worldwide!
Not to be confused with male pattern baldness, Alopecia Areata affects males and females at any age, with no known specific trigger. Family history, unrelated pre-existing autoimmune diseases and psychological stress all play a part in increasing the risk of triggering Alopecia Areata
What are the symptoms of Alopecia Areata?
Since my initial diagnosis, I have experienced a number of different symptoms, including:
- Patchy hair loss (not necessarily permanent)
- Rough or pitting fingernails/toenails
- Thinning hair follicle roots
- Social anxiety and stress
Who can I talk to about my symptoms?
First and foremost, it is vitally important to speak to a physician about your symptoms as they may be indicators of other health issues, such as a fungal infection or protein deficiency. There are also a number of support groups and forums across the U.S. to learn helpful tips and daily care ideas.
Most recently, I learned about clinical research study participation opportunities at Texas Dermatology and Laser Services. This research study in particular is a Phase 2 study of a potential new treatment option for those with moderate to severe Alopecia Areata. Volunteers for this study may receive physician or medical staff care at no cost, study-related treatment, and compensation for time and travel.
How can I find out more information?
Initially, I was devastated, and even a bit embarrassed at my condition. Learning about my symptoms and the research being done to treatment Alopecia Areata gave me hope for myself, and the many others like me. If you would like to learn more about how to get involved in this clinical study, click HERE or contact Texas Dermatology and Laser Services at (210) 829-5180.