Autoimmune diseases cause many different symptoms throughout the body, from mild to severe. Although the exact cause is unknown, several risk factors have been identified in some autoimmune disorders.
Family history: Lupus and multiple sclerosis have been identified as having a family risk factor. The inheritance of specific genes can increase the probability of contracting an autoimmune disease; however, a combination of genes and other factors can trigger it.
Race or ethnicity: Some autoimmune diseases are more common or have a greater impact on certain groups. For example, lupus is more severe in African Americans and Hispanics.
Gender: Autoimmune diseases that affect more women than men include Hashimoto's disease, lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, Graves' disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Autoimmune hair loss
Although there are more than 80 conditions classified as an autoimmune disorder, a few can cause hair loss.
Autoimmune diseases commonly associated with varying degrees of hair loss include alopecia, lupus, Hashimoto's disease, Graves' disease, and, to a lesser extent, Crohn's disease and psoriasis.
Hair loss is the result of white blood cells in the immune system attacking healthy cells in the hair follicles, thereby damaging the follicle and decreasing hair production.
The good news is that the stem cells that supply new cells to the follicle are not targeted, so the hair follicles can grow back.
Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases and Hair Loss
woman removing hair that has been left in a hairbrush.Hormone treatments and changes in diet and lifestyle are often used to help treat autoimmune disorders.
Steroids, androgen blockers, oral contraceptives, and immunosuppressive medications can also be used to treat specific autoimmune diseases. All of these medications have side effects, one of which can be hair loss.
When an autoimmune disease is already causing hair loss, taking a drug with the same side effect can aggravate the situation and, in extreme cases, can lead to total baldness.
Similarly, things like food sensitivities, environmental toxins, or medications used to treat other medical conditions can exacerbate the symptoms of autoimmune disease. Identifying and rectifying these factors can help resolve or alleviate some symptoms.