Alopecia - A Little Knowledge of Alopecia Areata Goes a Long Way


Spotty or complete hair loss on the scalp — alopecia areata — is generally due to an autoimmune response. This can result in baldness patches, complete hair loss from the scalp and partial or total body hair loss.

What is going on? The natural immune system is malfunctioning, treating hair follicles as it would harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. It attacks those follicles in specific areas (spotty hair loss on the scalp), over the entire scalp or head (known as “alopecia totalis”) and sometimes over the entire body (“alopecia universalis”).

As with any form of hair loss, alopecia areata can be psychologically distressing. But it does not generally mean other medical problems are present. Sun exposure and other irritants affecting exposed skin are the primary health concerns. The condition is believed to have genetic causes, but stress may precipitate its onset. Spotty hair loss can begin in childhood, so both physiological and psychosocial factors are critical.

There is no known treatment or cure for alopecia areata; however, its symptoms can completely reverse themselves and hair regrowth does occur. But because there are no known means for making this happen, individuals who experience any degree of this condition — spotty hair loss, complete scalp hair loss or complete body hair loss — should consider either embracing the look or, for alopecia areata and alopecia totalis, acquiring some form of hair replacement system.