Autoimmune Disease and Hair Loss

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autoimmune-disease-and-hair-lossAccording to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune disease affects up to 50 million Americans. An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, mistakenly attacks the healthy cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue.

The immune system, which includes our bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes, thymus and white blood cells, is tasked with recognizing and eliminating foreign invaders and bad cells. When the immune system fails to differentiate between normal healthy cells and bad cells, autoimmune disorders can result.

Lupus

Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, affects millions of Americans, according to the Lupus Foundation. Although the exact cause of lupus remains a mystery, because lupus tends to occur within families. In this condition, the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissues. This results in symptoms such as swelling, inflammation and damage to joints, skin, hair, kidneys, the heart, blood and lungs.

Lupus causes widespread inflammation that usually involves your skin particularly on your face and scalp. Lupus can cause the hair on your scalp to gradually thin out, although a few people lose clumps of hair. Loss of eyebrow, eyelash, beard and body hair also is possible.

In most cases, the hair grows back when lupus is treated. But some people with lupus develop round lesions on the scalp. Because these discoid lesions scar your hair follicles, they do cause permanent hair loss. Lupus can also cause the scalp hair along your hairline to become fragile and breakoff easily, leaving you with a ragged appearance known as lupus hair.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This is a disease that causes hair to fall out in small smooth round patches. Alopecia areata rarely causes total hair loss; however, it can prevent hair from growing back. Alopecia Areata is a condition in which the immune system attacks healthy cells which are meant to protect against foreign objects such as viruses, bacteria and other germs. In autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part or parts of the body as foreign. This causes some mild inflammation which leads in some way to hairs becoming weak and falling out to cause the bald patches.

Thyroid Disease

Hashimoto’s disease, most commonly known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, occurs when the cells of the immune system attack the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces hormones that regulate many of the body’s activities. The immune system attacking the thyroid gland causes inflammation of the gland, which interferes with its ability to function, resulting in an underactive thyroid.

This condition progresses slowly, producing few symptoms until the level of thyroid hormones drops significantly. Initial symptoms sluggishness and fatigue. Thyroid Disease symptoms are hair loss, puffy face, hoarse voice, increased sensitivity to cold, unexplained weight gain and muscle aches increase in severity if the condition is not treated on time.

Who can get autoimmune diseases?

Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone. Yet some people are at greater risk, including:

  • People with a family history — Certain autoimmune diseases run in families, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is also common for different types of autoimmune diseases to affect different members of a single family. Inheriting certain genes can make it more likely to get an autoimmune disease.

  • Environmental exposure — Certain environmental exposures or events may cause some autoimmune diseases, or make them worse. Sunlight, chemicals called solvents, and viral and bacterial infections are linked to many autoimmune diseases.

  • Women of childbearing age — Women during their childbearing years can get an autoimmune disease. Women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases than men.

  • People of certain races — Some autoimmune diseases are more common or more severely affect certain groups of people or from a certain ethnic background more than others.

Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases

Normally, autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions which have no cure. Treatment involves attempts to control the process of the disease and to decrease the symptoms, especially during flare-ups. But the best you can do is a list of things mentioned as follows to alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disease and Hair Loss:

  • Exercise regularly

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet

  • Take vitamin supplements

  • Get blood transfusions, if blood is affected

  • Take anti-inflammatory medication, if joints are affected

  • Take hormone replacement, if required

  • Take pain medication

  • Get physical therapy

  • Take immunosuppressive medication

  • Avoid stress

  • Limit sun exposure

  • Avoid any known triggers of flare-ups