What is Alopecia areata- know from a Expert Dermatologist

Written By Dr Nitin, MD Skin

Last updated: 03/10/18

“Doctor, what is alopecia areata?” Alopecia areata is the common cause of localized bald patches on the scalp in all age groups. Today, we have renowned dermatologist Dr Nitin, MD Skin to tell us more about 'what is Alopecia areata'. He is the founder of Dermacosm, which is a dermatologic clinic dedicated to providing clinical dermatology, paediatric dermatology, cosmetology and dermato-surgery services. Over to Dr Nitin!

What is alopecia areata?

Alopecia means loss of hair or baldness. There are many varying causes and types of alopecia. Alopecia areata is a non-scarring type of hair loss that typically causes patches of baldness. In 90% cases, the scalp is the involved site.

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What causes alopecia areata?

Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease. It happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks and damages your hair follicles, due to which the hair becomes weak, and ultimately falls out. Fortunately, the damage to the follicle is usually not permanent.

Related Topic: How to treat Alopecia Areata

How does alopecia areata present?

It is seen as a smooth, round patch of sudden loss of hair in well-demarcated areas. For this reason, it is often referred to as spot baldness. However, the lesion(s) may be single or numerous. Rarely, it can lead to total loss of hair on the scalp or complete loss of hair on the scalp, face, and/or body.

What are the chances of progression of alopecia areata?

The course of alopecia areata is unpredictable, as it all depends on how one's immune system reacts.  

  • If alopecia areata involves less than half of the scalp, hair regrowth can be expected within a year in most patients. Extensive the area involved, higher the chance of recurrence.
  • About 10% of people with alopecia areata may never regrow hair. 
  • About 1 in 5 patients with alopecia areata may develop total scalp baldness (alopecia totalis)
  • About 1 in 10 may progress to loss of all scalp and body hair (alopecia universalis).

Related Topic: How to treat Alopecia Areata