Alopecia Areata Can Cause a Wide Range of Physical and Psychosocial Symptoms

September 20th, 2022

As an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, alopecia areata is most recognized for causing unpredictable hair loss, partial or complete, on the scalp and body. However, the disease also causes a range of other physical and psychosocial symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings revealed the range of these symptoms, which can have a significant impact on daily living with alopecia areata.

Physical symptoms

People with alopecia areata have reported a range of physical symptoms and complications, affecting different areas of the body:

Eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Dryness and irritation
  • Inability to keep sweat or water out of eyes
  • Debris in the eyes
Nose
  • Dryness and irritation
  • Frequent illness and infections
  • Frequent running nose/sneezing
  • Breathing issues
Nails
  • Splitting
  • Discoloration
  • Sensitivity
  • Difficulty with grasping and fine motor tasks
Scalp
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Trouble regulating temperature
  • Increased sensitivity to temperature
  • Increased susceptibility to sunburn

 

Psychosocial symptoms

Key findings of the survey show that patients with alopecia areata suffer significantly increased psychosocial burdens of this disease, including a range of symptoms, significant psychosocial impact that sometimes did not abate over time, and more. Specific findings include:

  • Alopecia areata has a negative impact on many aspects of daily life, extending far beyond cosmetic.
  • Alopecia areata can negatively redirect the course of a patient’s life, culminating in unfulfilled professional and academic aspirations.
  • Alopecia areata can lead to diminished expectations for relationships and family life.
  • Hair loss concealment techniques and treatments were considered unsatisfactory to patients and imposed a significant time and financial burden.

The publication in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings was based on a survey conducted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) of 216 people with alopecia areata for a median of 13 years. Concert Pharmaceuticals provided funding to sponsor the research.

 

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