In a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatology, researchers linked an infection with the H1N1 virus (swine flu) to some patients losing hair. The report from Japan shows that seven patients who were diagnosed with H1N1 experienced alopecia areata. Characterized by a sudden loss of hair, the cause of alopecia areata is unknown but causes the body to form antibodies that attack hair follicles.
Between 2009 and 2010, scientists followed the seven patients’ hair loss after the swine flu caused high fevers and their hair to fall out. In four patients, this instance was a reoccurrence of hair loss. For the other three, this was the first time they’d ever experienced this type of alopecia. All of the patients were under 30, and four were under the age of 10.
Researchers suggest that because more than half of the patients were experiencing a reoccurrence of alopecia areata that these individuals might be genetically predisposed to the hair loss condition and should probably receive a flu shot for prevention.
While most cases of hair loss are caused by pattern baldness, there are rare cases in which parts or all of their hair on the scalp or body can fall out as a result of a unique autoimmune condition in which the body’s stress response is to attack the hair follicles. Unpredictable in nature, hair lost from alopecia areata can grow back and then fall out again for some, and grow back and stay for others.
The condition cannot be cured, though treatment can help regrow hair. Certain anti-inflammatory medications prescribed to those with autoimmune diseases can help to curb the body’s attack response, while topical drugs like Rogaine® can help regrow hair in adults. A recent study performed by Columbia University Medical Center researchers uncovered the genes that could cause alopecia areata, which could lead to better treatments for those who suffer from the hair loss condition.
For more information on hair loss conditions, make sure to connect with Dr. Edmond Griffin and The Griffin Center Hair Restoration and Research on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also contact our office to schedule a consultation.