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Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata


Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).


Alopecia areata affects approximately two percent of the population overall, including more than 5 million people in the United States alone. This common skin disease is highly unpredictable and cyclical. Hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time, and the disease course is different for each person.


Types of Alopecia Areata

In all forms of alopecia areata, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.


Alopecia AreataTotalis
Alopecia areatatotalis presents itself as total loss of hair on the scalp
Alopecia AreataUniversalis
Alopecia areatauniversalis is the rarest form of alopecia areata and presents itself as the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body.
Autoimmunity and Alopecia Areata


Alopecia Areta in Children

Alopecia areata is a common condition that occurs in males and females of all ages, buy young persons are affected most often. The alopecia areata experience varies with age and can be especially difficult, for the patient as well as the parent, when it presents itself during childhood. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation has many programs created to ease the burden of the entire family when a child is diagnosed with alopecia areata.

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Children under the age of five

Children under the age of five react very little to their alopecia areata, having very little impact if any. The preschool child is so busy exploring their world, acquiring skills and gaining independence, that his appearance is insignificant to himself and his peers. His hairloss may be an interesting anomaly, and nothing more; most likely his peers will not take much notice to this difference.


Children ages six through twelve

Between the ages of six and twelve, children have gained experience and interacted with enough people to grasp the idea that views of the world differ, and that it is important to pay attention to what others think and feel. While this ability to see things as others do helps children become more empathetic and considerate, it also tends to make children more self-conscious. Children at this stage of development are much more concerned about how others view them, how they may differ from others, and whether others might be making fun of them. Since children at this age have become so aware of individual differences, they unfortunately are more likely to poke fun at those who don't fit their definition of normal. Even if a child has had alopecia areata since infancy, he now faces new problems of adjustment. Peers are becoming a more significant part of his life and the desire to "fit in" is becoming stronger. Even a child with a very healthy self-concept may feel threatened. However if a child feels good about herself and has at least one skill she enjoys and is passionate about, the odds are increased that she will deal successfully with these difficulties.


Alopecia areata is a common condition that occurs in males and females of all ages, buy young persons are affected most often. The alopecia areata experience varies with age and can be especially difficult, for the patient as well as the parent, when it presents itself during childhood. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation has many programs created to ease the burden of the entire family when a child is diagnosed with alopecia areata.


Children ages six through twelve

Alopecia areata usually begins when clumps of hair fall out, resulting in totally smooth, round hairless patches on the scalp. In some cases the hair may become thinner without noticeable patches of baldness, or it may grow and break off, leaving short stubs (called "exclamation point" hair). In rare cases, complete loss of scalp hair and body hair occurs. The hair loss often comes and goes-hair will grow back over several months in one area but will fall out in another area. When alopecia areata results in patches of hair loss, the hair usually grows back in 6 months to 1 year.3 Although the new hair is usually the same color and texture as the rest of the hair, it sometimes is fine and white. About 10% of people with this condition may never regrow hair.1 You are more likely to have permanent hair loss if you:


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