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(baldness), thinning or complete absence of hair in an isolated area or on the entire surface of the skin.
Alopecia is usually localized on the scalp and face; less frequently, it is localized in the armpits, the pubic region, or elsewhere. Congenital, premature, senile, and other forms of the disease exist. Symptomatic alopecia—the result of acute infections, nervous diseases, poisoning, endocrine disorders, fungal diseases, or secondary syphilis—is characterized by the temporary focal or diffuse loss of hair in any region of the body; the skin remains unaltered at the morbid site. Alopecia areata, a special type of baldness, is manifested by the sudden appearance of hairless foci that are round or oval and well defined. With the merging of these foci, complete baldness can occur; the skin is unchanged and subjective sensations are absent. Angioneurosis and endocrine disorders are the principal causes of alopecia areata.
Congenital alopecia is rarely encountered; the manifestation of a developmental disorder, it is usually noticed at birth or in the first months of life. Premature alopecia is observed most often in men 20 to 25 years of age. The condition is characterized by the gradual, progressive loss of hair from the scalp. The skin in such cases becomes thin, and its texture, silky. In women affected with premature alopecia, only a thinning of hair occurs. In both men and women, senile alopecia progresses in a manner similar to premature alopecia but sets in at a later age (55–60 years). Senile alopecia is a result of normal physiological aging.
Treatment of alopecia involves the administering of vitamins A, B1, and B6, of hormones, and furocoumarin preparations—peucedanin, Beroksan, Ammifurin—in combination with ultraviolet irradiation. Topical measures include physiotherapy, massage, and rubbing with tinctures of cayenne pepper.
REFERENCESZalkind, E. S. Bolezni volos. [Leningrad] 1959.
Mnogotomnoe rukovodstvopo dermatovenerologii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1964.
I. IA. SHAKHTMEISTER