Archives for trigger

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…

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…

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…

Pathophysiology of Alopecia Areata

The exact pathophysiology of alopecia areata remains unknown. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that alopecia areata is a T-cell–mediated autoimmune condition that is most likely to occur in genetically predisposed individuals.[1]

Autoimmunity

Much evidence supports the hypothesis that alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition. The process appears to be T-cell mediated, but antibodies directed to hair follicle structures also have been found with increased frequency in alopecia areata patients compared with control subjects. Using immunofluorescence, antibodies to anagen-phase hair follicles were found in as many as 90% of patients with alopecia areata compared with less than 37% of control subjects. Read more…

Commonly Associated Conditions

A large number of patients with alopecia areata still need to be examined to confirm whether an increased prevalence of these conditions exists among patients with alopecia areata. Unfortunately, most studies are performed on small groups; therefore, the data should be interpreted carefully.

Atopic dermatitis is seen in 9-26% of patients with alopecia areata. In the general population, the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children in temperate developed countries varies from 5-20%. In adults, the prevalence decreases to 2-10%. Some authors have found atopy to be a poor prognostic factor for alopecia areata. Read more…