Alopecia areata, also known as spot baldness, is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body. Often, it results in a few bald spots on the scalp, each about the size of a coin. Psychological stress and illness are possible factors in bringing on alopecia areata in individuals at risk, but in most cases, there is no obvious trigger. People are generally otherwise healthy. In a few cases, all the hair on the scalp is lost, or all body hair is lost. Hair loss can be permanent, or temporary. It is distinct from pattern hair loss, which is common among males.
There are different types of this condition. It is most common in its main form, but there are other, rare types:
- Alopecia areata totalis: It means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.
- Alopecia areata universalis: It is the loss of hair over your entire body.
- Diffuse alopecia areata: That is a sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches.
- Ophiasis alopecia areata: Causes hair loss in a band shape around the sides and back of your head.
Alopecia areata Symptoms
The main and often the only symptom of alopecia is hair loss. You may notice:
- Small bald patches on your scalp or other parts of your body.
- Patches may get larger and grow together into a bald spot.
- Hair grows back in one spot and falls out in another.
- You lose a lot of hair over a short time.
- More hair loss in cold weather.
- Fingernails and toenails become red, brittle, and pitted.
Alopecia Causes and Risk Factors
When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks your body. With spot baldness, it’s the hair follicles that are attacked.
Doctors don’t know why it happens. But they think people who get it have something in their genes that makes it more likely. Then something happens to trigger hair loss.
You’re more likely to get spot baldness if you have:
- A family member who has it.
- Down syndrome.
- Pernicious anemia.
- Seasonal Allergies.
- Thyroid disease.