Dermatological diseases and treatments
Alopecia areata is a relatively common type of non-scarring alopecia and is an autoimmune disease. As such, it is the body's own defences that mistakenly attack the healthy hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. It usually presents as hair loss in the form of round or oval patches. Other manifestations include alopecia totalis (the entire scalp), universalis (scalp and body hair), and ophiasic (a band-like pattern of hair loss on the periphery of the temporo-occipital scalp). Alopecia areata is a non-scarring type of alopecia and is therefore reversible. Its evolution is unpredictable: in some patients it can improve by itself but for other patients the hair can take years to grow back, and therefore these patients might benefit from medical treatment. A wide range of treatments for alopecia areata are available, including immunomodulatory agents, contact sensitisers and biological response modifiers. Various combinations of drugs are often used. The treatment chosen will depend on several factors such as the extent and duration of the alopecia, previous treatments undertaken by the patient and the preferences and associated illnesses of the patient.