Living with alopecia areata: when baldness occurs drastically even in adolescence

Long, short, dyed, with highlights… Hair has become a symbol of beauty This is a very difficult condition to deal with when it starts to fade away, as it often leads to a loss of self-esteem and the appearance of some psychological problems. However, androgenic alopecia, i.e. common baldness, is not the only reason why someone can lose their hair.

It is estimated that “There are more than a hundred different types of alopecia and all of them greatly affect the quality of life of patients. One of the hardest is alopecia areata, which is the second most common, only surpassed by common baldness.In fact, in Spain more than 8,000 people “they live with it every day,” he says. Dr. Sergio Vañódermatologist and director of the Alopecia Unit at the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid. In these patients, hair loss can occur very quickly and drastically and, although the cause is not fully understood, “it is known that alopecia areata has a autoimmune origin, that is, the body’s own defenses attack the hair root “This causes inflammation that causes the hair to fall off and not grow back until the inflammation stops. The reason why this inflammatory reaction is triggered is completely unknown, although there is evidence that genetics influence its development and stress can act as a trigger,” explains Dr. Vañó.

Alopecia areataT. GrandsonThe reason

At any age

Alopecia areata does not understand age or sex, since It appears in both men and women and can begin at any time in life.even from childhood. Specifically, this type of alopecia appears in 80% of cases before the age of 40 and in 20% when the person has not yet turned 18, an early onset that marks the patient’s future, since the earlier it appears, the worse the prognosis.

«Alopecia areata It is a visible disease that marks physically and psychologically those who suffer from it., But in the case of adolescents it is, if possible, even more serious.since they have to deal with the appearance of the pathology when they have not yet reached adulthood. All this means that they live with hair loss at a stage marked by constant emotional changes, warns the Dr. Raul de Lucashead of the Pediatric Dermatology Department at La Paz University Hospital in Madrid.

And so it confirms it Conception Botillopatient and president of the Alopecia Madrid Association, who emphasizes that “this disease represents a very big emotional challenge for those who suffer from it, especially the youngest, since the diagnosis comes at a time of change, where image and self-esteem are affected. This combination can have a impact on self-image and confidence, something that is compounded by social misunderstanding and ignorance “which still exists today. Therefore, it is vital to understand that behind every strand of hair lost there is a torrent of emotions that deserve to be recognized and supported.”

No hair on the whole body

There are many forms of alopecia areata. The most common is the appearance of oval hairless areas on the scalp in isolation or in small numbers, while if the number of plaques increases we can say that it is multifocal. The most severe forms cause widespread and very rapid hair loss, even leading to the loss of all the hair on the scalp in just a few weeks. Sometimes, it can also be loss of eyebrow, eyelash and body hair, called alopecia areata universalis“, explains Dr. Vañó. But the impact goes further, as patients may present symptoms that affect their daily life, such as nasal discharge and frequent sneezing, eye irritation, sensitivity to changes in temperature and sunburn or brittle nails.

Alopecia areata
Alopecia areataTania NietoThe reason

According to specialists, the evolution of alopecia areata is unpredictable, as it can last from a few months to many years. “As it is an autoimmune process, it can present episodes of improvement, but in the same way it can be “active” and cause hair loss for a long time. Therefore, it is essential to diagnose the problem in time and act early,” recommends Dr. De Lucas.

Misunderstanding marked by ignorance

Despite being the second most common type of alopecia in our country, after common baldness, Alopecia areata is a great unknown for 70% of Spaniardsas indicated by the survey entitled “Alopecia areata in Spain: knowledge and perception of the disease”, promoted by Pfizer. And this figure is higher when it comes to adolescent patients, since this sociological study shows that nine out of ten respondents, when seeing a child or adolescent without hair, confuse the pathology they suffer from, since 65% would say that they are undergoing oncological treatment. In fact, according to the data from this survey, only 2.38% of Spaniards believe that this disease can affect people between 12 and 18 years old, which demonstrates the confusion that exists in society about alopecia areata in minors.

*Report prepared in collaboration with Pfizer