This week we’ve been talking about hair a lot, and today I’ve got another topic to raise: alopecia. Essentially, it’s a condition whereby your immune system begins attacking your hair follicles. It’s not pleasant to deal with, but there is a new indicator of severity, disease duration and therapy resistance to start thinking about.
For those of you who may not know, alopecia areata (AA) occurs when you start losing hair in patches, and patients will usually have circular patches on their scalp that most often grows back, sometimes with white or silver hair. It often recurs, and those with the condition are familiar with it so they don’t panic too much about losing their hair altogether if it starts growing back. Unfortunately, some people have complete loss of body and scalp hair but that is rare compared to the population that have AA which can resolve and recur multiple times over their lifetime.In a new study, researchers evaluated the role zinc plays in AA more closely by measuring the serum zinc levels of patients with AA. They found that lower zinc levels were present in patients with AA, especially those with longer-lasting cases. This means that is useful to measure these levels in order to evaluate how severe one’s AA is and what their future with the condition may look. Even better, we now can suggest zinc supplements as a therapeutic benefit as well as recommend it immediately for patients who are zinc deficient. I’m excited to look at the condition in a new light, as we previously never checked zinc levels. Now, this new information may make our job - and the lives of AA patients - a little easier.