Archives for autoimmune

Stress and Alopecia Areata – What’s the connection?

One of the most common questions that comes up in our online alopecia support group is “does stress cause alopecia?”  I always cringe when I see the word ’cause’ because quite honestly, if researchers knew the exact ’cause’ then they would be able to find a ‘cure.’ I would much rather see the use of the word ‘trigger’ instead of ’cause.’  Learning to look at the four pillars of all autoimmune disorders and how they work may help to unravel the correlation between stress and alopecia areata.  After having alopecia areata for over 40 years, stepping back and looking at these four pillars helped me learn not to look for one specific trigger but start focusing on the whole picture… Read more…

Alopecia: My Story

Aspire to Inspire  <3

Be sure to visit and follow Marisa’s stunning Instagram feed.

Family Fun Day(s) and Meet & Greet in Washington, DC

picnic logo 600We have some fabulous events coming up in July, all happening in Washington, DC.  The first event will on July 15 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.  Our Picnic on the Mall is a family-friendly FREE event.  Bring your own food and beverages or purchase a boxed lunch at the concession stands located on The Mall. The picnic is open to adults and children.  Visit our Events Calendar to learn more.

That evening, join us for an evening of fun, frolic and fabulous food at The Dubliner located within The Phoenix Park Hotel, just one block from the beautiful Union Station.  Dinner begins at 6:30pm and ends at 9:00pm but feel free to stay longer and listen to live music by Brian Gaffney.  The Dubliner is America’s premier Irish pub, established in 1974, serves hearty Hibernian fare including their world famous Fish’n’Chops and Irish Beef Stew.  Click here for ticket information and to reserve your seat!

A stay in Washington, DC is not complete until you have visited world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.  We will also be sponsoring a Family Fun Day on July 16 for an afternoon touring the National Air and Space Museum (one of my personal favorites and always a hit with kids!). The Smithsonian is a free museum and open to the public.  The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum maintains the world’s largest and most significant collection of aviation and space artifacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials. It operates two landmark facilities that, together, welcome more than eight million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum in the country. It also is home to the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies. Visit our Events Calendar to learn more.

We look forward to seeing you there!  Questions?  Contact melanie@worldalopeciacommunity.org.

Vitamin D Receptor May Play a Role With Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata (AA) is a medical condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with both AA and androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in past studies. It is hypothesized that vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties, and its role in epidermal cell proliferation may be responsible for its role in inflammatory and skin conditions such as AA and AGA. Additionally, AA has been linked to a mutation to the VDR gene. However, no studies to date have evaluated whether VDR levels are linked with alopecia; therefore, researchers recently sought to find out if the VDRs in the skin and blood could serve as a potential pathogenic marker for these conditions. Read more…

Learning to Thrive Series: Amy Johnson

One of the best things about being part of a global alopecia community is that we enjoy meeting people who also have alopecia and are learning to thrive with alopecia every day, every where in the world. For this installment, we’re visiting with Amy Johnson, the Communications/Fundraising Manager of Alopecia UK, a charity organization based in the UK whose vision is to improve the lives of those affected by alopecia.

Alopecia is something in my life, but isn't something that should change the person I am.

Alopecia is something in my life, but isn’t something that should change the person I am.

Q. When were you diagnosed with alopecia areata?

I first had two small patches of Alopecia Areata in October 2007. They quickly grew back. By 2010, I had lost everything. I have experienced different degrees of patchy regrowth since 2012.

Q. How has alopecia changed you as an individual?

I’d like to think that alopecia hasn’t changed me too much. I take the approach that alopecia is something in my life, but isn’t something that should change the person I am. Saying that, it has had a BIG impact on me in that I have ended up working for an alopecia charity so I suppose you could argue it has become my life! Read more…

To Boost or Not To Boost – The Immune System Explained

Oftentimes when people are first diagnosed, it’s because they find a bald spot which may lead them to believe that alopecia areata is specifically about their hair and the loss of it. However, alopecia areata is more about the immune system than it is about the hair follicle itself.

Certain portions of the human body have ‘immune privilege,’ meaning they are able to tolerate the introduction of foreign substances without eliciting an inflammatory immune response. Our hair follicles (primarily the epithelium surrounding the hair follicles) are part of the skin immune system. Our skin immune system is constantly signaling and talking to keep our lymphocytes at bay — letting them know that they are, indeed, supposed to be there. Read more…

Treatments for Alopecia Areata

Treatment Options for Alopecia AreataA number of treatments can help hair regrow but none alter the long-term course of the disorder. Spontaneous remission occurs in up to 80% of patients with limited patchy hair loss of short duration (< 1 year) making it difficult to assess efficacy, particularly in mild forms of alopecia areata.[3]

Some trials have been limited to patients with severe alopecia areata where spontaneous remission is unlikely. However, these patients tend to be resistant to all forms of treatment and the failure of a treatment in this setting does not exclude efficacy in mild alopecia areata. There are numerous case reports and uncontrolled case series claiming response of alopecia areata to diverse treatments. However, few treatments have been subjected to randomized controlled trials and, except for contact immunotherapy, there are few published data on long-term outcomes.

Corticosteroids

Topical corticosteroid therapy can be useful, especially in children who cannot tolerate injections. It is administered as follows:

  • Fluocinolone acetonide cream 0.2%, betamethasone dipropionate cream 0.05%, or clobetasol 0.05% foam are the most common forms prescribed
  • Topical cream or foam should be applied to the affected area and 1 cm beyond the circumference of the bald patch daily
  • Treatment must be continued for a minimum of 3 months before regrowth can be expected, and maintenance therapy is often necessary
  • For alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis, 2.5 g of clobetasol propionate covered with a plastic film 6 days/wk for 6 months helped a minority of patients
  • Side effects include skin atrophy, folliculitis, or telangiectasia
  • 28.5%-61% of patients achieve regrowth — 37.5% of patients experience relapse[4] Read more…

4 Myths I Didn’t Need To Believe About My Chronic Illness

In an ideal world, we’d all support our body’s miraculous ability to heal itself and develop new cells through our lifestyle choices. Whether through the food we choose, physical activity, the amount of rest we receive, or even the conversations we have, everything would either contribute to our ongoing good health or inhibit our body from being well or healing.

This is even true when it comes to autoimmune disease. Often, when a person is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, medications are prescribed with little to no explanation about the disease and how our lifestyle impacts that condition. Read more…

Learning to Thrive Series: Lu Mueller-Kaul

For our second Q&A session, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lu Mueller-Kaul. Please take a moment to read Lu’s courageous journey with alopecia.

Q. When did you notice your hair loss?

In the spring of 2014 I suddenly lost an eyebrow. It was the strangest thing — I looked in the mirror, and my left eyebrow was gone. I did remember that it had looked a bit thin for a few days before, but I hadn’t really paid attention. At the time, I had long dreadlocks, and kept them very neat. They were carefully divided, and where the roots were parted, you could always see the scalp.

I had not noticed that these bare spots had gotten bigger in some areas–the dreads were really hiding it well. Now I’ve seen old pictures from 2011 where there was a very clear bald spot over the right ear — but I hadn’t noticed it at all. Read more…

Association Between Vitamin D Levels & Alopecia Areata

AE 14A recent study out of Turkey found that in those with alopecia areata, low vitamin D levels are common and may relate to a more severe disease state.

Vitamin D has a well-established effect on the immune system and is linked to a variety of autoimmune diseases. Researchers have found that vitamin D may be able to help in some aspects of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. That being said, there hasn’t been any research looking at the relationship between vitamin D and AA.

Recently, researchers at the Şişli Etfal Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi (Training and Research Hospital) in Turkey conducted a study to determine if vitamin D levels relate to AA and how vitamin D may affect disease severity. Read more…