5 Autoimmune Diseases that Cause Hair Fall

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Hair loss could be due to a gazillion reasons!

The most dreaded of them all are due to diseases. The most common diseases that cause hair loss are autoimmune diseases.

"Autoimmune disease" is a condition where your body produces an immune reaction against its own cells by mistaking them as the enemy. They have a genetic predisposition. So if your parents, grandparents, or some close relatives suffer from these, your chances of having the same fate increases.
Autoimmune diseases are usually found in association with other autoimmune diseases. So if you have one, you may as well have a check-up for other similar diseases.

Read along to learn more about the 5 autoimmune diseases that cause hair fall.

1. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia Areata is different from alopecia.

Alopecia is the term used for hair loss due to any reason, while Alopecia Areata is a medical condition that causes hair fall due to a problem in the body's immune system.

So while you may be having alopecia, it might or might not be alopecia areata.

In this condition, cells of the body are directed to attack the body's own hair follicles. Hair loss can be seen from the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or even other parts of the body like the eyebrows, eyelashes, chest, and pubic area (alopecia Universalis). There is also diffuse and patchy type alopecia areata.

In the beginning, it might be unnoticeable, but you might notice it as the small areas of hair fall come together and form larger noticeable patches. This is called a bald spot.

If you have that bald spot, you lose a lot of hair in a short time, or you see hair fall in one area and hair growth in the other area at the same time, you should make an appointment with your doctor to be on the safe side.

When does it start? Who does it affect?
It may be seen for the first time at any age. However, it develops mostly in children and teenagers.
The risk of developing this disease increases if your parents have a similar condition. But not every child of such parents or close relatives develops it. Risk also increases in people with some conditions such as:
● Asthma
● Vitiligo
● Down's syndrome
● Allergies

How can it be treated?
Corticosteroids are commonly used for treatment. Medications can be oral or topical creams, foams or ointments like Minoxidil. Injections and immunotherapy are also prescribed for the treatment.

2. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
This is an autoimmune disease of the butterfly-shaped hormone-producing, thyroid gland, named after the Japanese surgeon who first described it. Countries like Japan and the United States have reported more cases of this disease.

There is a painless enlargement of the gland due to long-standing inflammation because the immune cells of the body attack the gland cells. This is mostly associated with decreased levels of the thyroid hormone, marked by feeling cold, constipation, unexplained weight gain, dry skin, dry hair, and brittle hair.

Hair loss is just one symptom among the many.

Disbalance in the thyroid hormones affects the hair growth cycle.
Sometimes an increase in the hormone level is also reported in this condition.

When does it start? Who does it affect?
Women in their 30s - 50s are the most common group that is affected by this disease.
Like other autoimmune diseases, it has a genetic link. So it is also hereditary. But not all people whose parents or grandparents have Hashimoto's develop this condition.

How can it be treated?
Treating the disease also treats the hair fall due to the disease. So your doctor might prescribe Anti-thyroid medications, Radioactive Thyroid, or Surgery.

3. Grave's Disease
This is another autoimmune disease of the thyroid gland. This is closely related to Hashimoto's disease. So if you have one, you might also have the other because they may frequently co-exist in a person or run in the family. The thyroid gland enlarges and the hormone is very much increased in this condition.

If you find yourself sweating a lot, have difficulty sleeping, or suffer from anxiety, weight loss, or your eyes look like they are protruding, it might be a sign that you should visit your doctor.

When does it start? Who does it affect?
Grave's disease commonly affects people with existing autoimmune disorders or those who have parents with such disorders. But mainly, women of middle age (even more than Hashimoto's disease!).
Women with emotional stress and those who smoke are at more peril.

How can it be treated?
Similar treatment is prescribed as in the case of Hashimoto’s disease. After the treatment of the disease, hair growth is usually normalized.

4. Scalp psoriasis
Psoriasis is another autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes somewhat raised, reddish, itchy, scaly patches on various parts of the largest organ of the body, that is skin.

It most commonly involves the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp.

Scalp psoriasis can spread to the forehead, back of the neck, or around the ears.

The episodes appear in cycles and flare-ups for a few weeks and months.

This is caused due to a problem in the body’s immune system, that causes the skin cells to replace more quickly than usual.

It does not directly cause hair loss but the harsh treatment and stress that comes with the disease are the main reasons for hair loss. The rigorous scratching due to the itch also causes hair loss.

When does it start? Who does it affect?
According to Healthline, approximately 2-3% of the world population suffers from it. It may appear at any age but mostly in the age group of 15-25 years.

How can it be treated?
Unfortunately, this is one of those diseases that cannot be cured. However, treatments are available that help to control the episodes and flare-ups. The hair growth takes place once the scalp and dandruff-like flaking clear.

5. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
This is another multi-system autoimmune disorder that affects the joints, causes fatigue and joint pain, and stiffness.

The most common feature of this disease is the butterfly rash over the face.

Hair fall is seen in some cases of Lupus and is caused due to inflammation around the hair follicles. This affects not only the hair follicles on the scalp but also the eyelashes, eyebrows, and beards. Hair loss due to inflammation is reversible but the discoid lesions due to Lupus cause scarring which makes the hair loss permanent.

When does it start? Who does it affect?
It may affect people of all ages but most commonly from 15-45 years. It is more common in African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans.

How can it be treated?
To reduce SLE flare-ups, antimalarials are prescribed and immunosuppressants and corticosteroids to manage the symptoms of inflammation.

Bottom Line:

If you happen to have such symptoms or are at risk of developing such diseases, get regular health checkups to diagnose and start treatment at the earliest.

Once the disease is treated, the associated hair loss due to these diseases can also be reduced, unless permanent scarring occurs.

If scarring occurs in certain areas of the scalp, the hair follicles are damaged permanently so no hair can grow from it.

In the meantime, consuming a healthy diet, rich in folic acid, Vit A, B, C, E may help in the hair growth process.

Green salads, protein-rich food, and minerals like Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, and Selenium are known to be good for hair health.

Remember: Prevention is always better than cure!
 
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