Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin and hair follicles. Patients with this condition develop hair loss on the scalp and face, and loss of body hair may occur as well. Currently, 6.8 million Americans are living with alopecia areata. The lifetime risk of developing this condition is 2.1 percent. Although symptoms can begin at any age, they typically start in childhood. There are three major types of alopecia areata, and symptoms vary by type. The patchy form of this condition is the most frequently diagnosed type. It causes multiple hairless patches on the scalp or body, which are roughly the size and shape of a coin. In alopecia totalis, patients experience a complete loss of scalp hair. Patients diagnosed with alopecia universalis have a total loss of hair from the face, scalp, and body.
Although there is currently no cure for this condition, patients may want to consider treatments to better manage their symptoms. Examples include topical minoxidil, corticosteroid injections, or anthralin cream. These medications are available by prescription.
Learn more about the various causes of hair loss now.