Alopecia is a confidence destroying condition, with its sufferers feeling like there is no recovery and they’ll be forever bald or suffer from hair loss. With technological advancements, it’s not the end of the world, even if it feels that way. Here’s everything you need to know about Alopecia Universalis and Alopecia Totalis, from what is alopecia, how common is alopecia, how it’s triggered to how to treat it.
Alopecia Universalis results in complete hair loss, both on the scalp and body and also damages nails. Some sufferers may also experience a burning sensation or itching on affected areas.
Alopecia Universalis Causes
So what is Alopecia Universalis? It is actually the rarest of all Alopecia forms, and is an advanced form of Alopecia Areata. Alopecia Universalis sufferers have a genetic mutation in their chromosomes which is present from birth, although it presents itself later in life.
The condition is thought to be a multifactorial condition (it’s caused by a combination of environmental influences and genetic predisposition). However, some sufferers have affected family members or a family history of it. However, the condition itself is not thought to be inherited.
Alopecia Universalis Treatment
There’s currently no alopecia universalis cure, although some sufferers hair does grow back. There are treatments which can help with hair regrowth but can’t recommend any medication so always consult your doctor or GP first.
This treatment is the most promising, with a 40% success rate. Topical Immunotherapy works by inducing, enhancing or suppressing the immune response. A swab containing diphencyprone (DPCP) is topically applied to the areas of the scalp, once a week. The dosage is then increased each time to gradually strengthen the solution.
There are side effects from allergic reactions to mild dermatitis, to less common ones such as vitiligo, and the treatment must be ongoing to see results.
Jakafi / Ruxolitinib
The drug trials for Ruxolitinib, brand name Jakafi, have only been carried out for the treatment of Alopecia Areata, but are now looking into the treatment of Alopecia Universalis. While treating three male alopecia patients who were all almost completely bald, each regrow a full head of hair after four months of taking ruxolitinib tablets twice per day.
Alopecia Totalis is an autoimmune disorder, turning your immune system against your hair follicles. It results in complete scalp hair loss, and can also affect both your eyebrows and eyelashes, yet affects no other hair on your body. Alopecia Totalis also affects your nails, making them thin, brittle and ridged.
Alopecia Totalis has no other side effects and is not contagious. Is alopecia genetic? Alopecia Totalis is thought to have a genetic influence. It also affects twice as many men than women and sufferers normally experience it before reaching 40 years old. There’s no known reason as to what triggers Alopecia Totalis despite it being genetic, however there is research that suggests long-term chronic stress or a sudden shock can trigger the condition.
Alopecia Totalis Treatment
There are very rare cases in which Alopecia Totalis will cease on its own, so most people will seek treatment. There is no Alopecia Totalis cure unfortunately, however there are treatments which can promote hair regrowth. Just like Alopecia Universalis, Topical Immunotherapy is the best treatment.
Xeljanz / Tofacitinib Citrate
Tofacitinib citrate, brand name Xeljanz, is a rheumatoid arthritis drug used to reverse Alopecia Universalis. A study with a 25 year old male patient saw him grow a full head of hair in around 11 months while on this medication.
There are further trials into this medication to see if it may be a suitable hair loss treatment for alopecia sufferers, including alopecia areata. However, there are a number of concerns surrounding the serious side-effects connected to Xeljanz. The drug is currently unlicensed within the UK due to these issues and trials continue into its suitability.
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